CAIRO -- Fake cash continues to float here.

The four cases of counterfeit bill passing the Cairo Police Department discovered in December has grown to 16 this year.

"(We've had) at least 12 cases this month," said CPD Investigator Johnny Myers.

To date, 19 counterfeit bills have circulated the city, 15 of which appeared between Thursday and Saturday, Myers said.

On Jan. 5, a fake $20 bill surfaced. Then, on Thursday, a phony $50 bill emerged at a Cairo convenience store. The same day, five other non-legal tender bills were found in at least three different local businesses' bank deposit bags: two illegitimate $20s and three $10s.

By Friday, two more worthless $10s and another valueless $20 joined the count in three separate incidents.

On Saturday, yet another non-U.S. Treasury backed $20 was discovered from yet another business.

Most of the counterfeits are $10 and $20 bills and surfaced at small businesses, gas stations/convenience stores and fast-food restaurants.

Local bank employees discovered some of the bills as they processed money from area business' deposit bags.

Also, in at least one case, a customer, when retrieving change, received a counterfeit bill from a business. The customer was later informed the bill was unacceptable when the customer tried to spend it at another business.

Myers offered tips cashiers should consider, given the rash of counterfeit bills that have been appearing in Cairo lately.

"The counterfeit pens are good," Myers said.

However, the drawback is that sometimes the pens clerks use to test if cash is real marks old bills, such as ones from the 1959 series, as though they are fakes, he said. That can create confusion.

Myers addressed other issues.

"When you get a counterfeit bill, do not give it back to the person who is passing it," he said.

He said cashiers should try to detain the person who is trying to give them the illegal bill or at least get a physical description of the person.

Simultaneously, Myers said citizens who may have received counterfeit bills from a business should be patient and report the incidents to the police.

"This is not a problem that just Cairo has," Myers said of the legal tender lookalikes.

Myers said he checked with Leon County, Fla.'s, law enforcement and discovered there was a rash of counterfeit bills that passed there last week.

"Ours don't seem to be related to theirs," he said.

He does not know of any cases occurring in Thomas County or elsewhere.

Myers suspects Cairo's counterfeit bills are restricted to the immediate area surrounding the city. He said it is hard to trace where a counterfeit bill originated, but that often fake bills end up having a drug-related connection.

Myers said CPD is following a few leads regarding the bills. He expects the department to crack the cases soon.

"Some of these (bills) are related," he said. For instance, at least two of the bills shared the same serial number.

Myers said what makes Cairo's counterfeit trail unusual this time around is the number of illegal bills that have turned up in such a short span. He said usually, the department sees a fake $50 or $100 bill occasionally.

"But this many 10s and 20s here within three days ... I believe we've got a local problem here," he said.

Anyone with information about the counterfeit bill's origins or who needs to report a counterfeit bill incident can call the Cairo Police Department at 378-3096.

Under Georgia law, counterfeiting money falls under forgery and can bring penalties of one to 10 years in jail.



To reach Reporter Blenda Link, call 226-2400, ext. 227.



SECURITY FEATURES TO LOOK FOR ON MODERN $20 BILLS

1. Color variations across the bill's face

2. A security thread that shows up on the left side of the bill's face when held up to a light

3. A watermark of past U.S.. president Andrew Jackson's portrait on the right-hand side of the bill's face when the bill is held up to a light

4. Color shifting ink: the numeral 20 in the lower right-hand corner looks copper at one angle and green at a different angle



SOURCE: CPD's Investigator Johnny Myers

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