Counterfeit $100s 'very convincing'
BY STAN FINGER
The Wichita Eagle
At first glance, they looked genuine. The $100 bills even fooled workers used to handling money. But they were, indeed, fake Ben Franklins -- and they reflect another scam originating out of Nigeria and other African nations, Wichita police said Monday.
"It's very convincing," Capt. Darrell Haynes said. "This is probably the best counterfeit money that I have encountered."
A 54-year-old Wichita man was sent $10,000 in $100 bills as part of a proposed business venture. He was asked to send cash to Nigeria via Western Union.
The victim gave a local Western Union office $3,500 worth of the bills, Haynes said. The clerk accepted the money and dutifully wired money to the address he was given.
But when the victim went to a Bank of America branch to deposit the remainder of the money, he told the teller that a friend mentioned the money may be counterfeit -- and the teller confirmed it.
The fake money didn't have the color-shifting ink or the microprinting that is used on genuine bills.
The shifting colors in the lower righthand corner of a genuine bill will vary according to the denomination, Haynes said, but they do shift as the bill is moved under light. And a genuine bill has tiny print that has proven difficult for counterfeiters to effectively mimic.
"It takes real high-quality, specialized printing to make the microprint," Haynes said.
But this batch of fake money was able to fool the markers many banks and merchants use to detect counterfeits. Many of the bills found to be counterfeit were marked with the color-changing pens frequently used to verify bills, Haynes said.
"Don't count on those little pens being your savior," he said.
Anyone questioning the authenticity of bills they've been given should "take a serious look" at them, he said. A 10-power magnifying glass can bring out microprinting on genuine currency, he said.
Because these con artists can be so difficult to catch across international boundaries, Haynes said, the best protection for consumers is to not get involved in the first place.
Residents should be "very skeptical" of any requests to ship money for someone they haven't met, he said, because it may well be a scam.
"Think twice about it," he said.
While previous scams have typically used fraudulent checks or money orders, he said, this is the first time local officials have seen counterfeit currency being shipped.