PARKERSBURG - Counterfeit $100 bills discovered at the Parkersburg Kmart on Tuesday and the Vienna Kmart on Wednesday are suspected to be part of a larger counterfeit operation coming to the Mid-Ohio Valley, officials said.
The Parkersburg Police responded to a call about a counterfeit $100 bill being used at Kmart, 1050 Division St., on Tuesday, said Sgt. Greg Nangle with the Parkersburg Police Department.
The Vienna Police responded to a call on Wednesday about three counterfeit $100 bills being used at Kmart in Vienna, 800 Grand Central Ave., to purchase electronics on Monday, said Sgt. Mike Pifer with the Vienna Police Department.
Parkersburg Police have no suspects in the case and an investigation involving the video surveillance at the Parkersburg Kmart is underway, Nangle said.
Vienna Police have determined the counterfeit bills came from a black female who purchased electronics with them on Monday, although their counterfeit status was not determined until Wednesday by BB&T bank employees, Pifer said.
It is unknown if the same suspect is responsible for both counterfeit uses in the area.
How to help
Those who suspect they have received counterfeit bills are asked to call their local police department immediately. The Parkersburg Police can be reached at (304) 424-8444 and the Vienna Police can be reached at (304) 295-8563.
The local police are working with other agencies in the state to locate the counterfeiters and prevent the spread of counterfeit money, Nangle said.
In the meantime, businesses in the Mid-Ohio Valley should be aware that counterfeit $100 bills have been sighted in the area, Nangle said.
Counterfeit bills matching the one found at the Kmarts have also been reported in Kanawha County, Nangle said. These bills have been the older generation, rather than the newer ones with holograms installed, Nangle said.
"We believe we have a group who is passing counterfeit $100 bills in multiple counties," Nangle said.
It is believed that the counterfeiters are not from the Parkersburg area, Nangle said.
Area shop owners are advised to have their employees scrutinize all $100 bills carefully in the coming weeks, Nangle said.
Counterfeit pens, a commonly used method of checking for counterfeit bills, are showing that some of the modern counterfeit bills are real, Nangle said. Although the counterfeit pen is a good starting point for counterfeit search, shop owners should use additional methods on large bills, he said.
Employees should hold all $100 bills, even those that indicate as real with a counterfeit pen, up to the light to examine them, Nangle said. Check for security strips and watermarks that should be in the bill, Nangle said.
The newest version of the $100 bill has a large security strip in the bill that is dark blue. This blue strip has bells in the ribbon that will change to 100s as the bill is moved.
In the gold bell located to the right of the blue strip is a color-changing liberty bell shape.
These holograms, and the watermarks on the older style of $100 bills, are challenging for counterfeiters to copy and are absent from most counterfeits, Nangle said.
Employees should examine the texture and feel of the bill and compare it to how other $100 bills feel, Nangle said. They should also examine the white space around the bill's edges before the printing begins, he said.
The edges of a legitimate bill should appear even all around the bill, he said.
When dealing with multiple bills at once, examine their serial numbers, Nangle said. Each bill should have a unique serial number, he said.