KENDALLVILLE — They look like $100 bills. But they are not.
Within the last two weeks, the Kendallville Police Department has dealt with a half-dozen reports of counterfeit money, according to KPD Sgt. Joe Handshoe.
“We’ve had a bunch of them lately,” Handshoe said Wednesday. “They’ve been turning up all over town.”
In five of those instances, the bills were not meant to be used for currency.
“This is gaming money,” Handshoe said. “It’s meant to be used for board games.”
All five of those counterfeit $100 bills city officers have run into looked like $100 bills on the front, but had small Chinese characters printed on the back. Handshoe said the money came from China.
It does not have the texture or feel of real currency, Handshoe said. It also doesn’t have the security features of real currency, such as a stripe that is visible only when the bill is held up to the light. But it looks real.
One city resident had purchased the money to be used for board games. A person visiting that resident’s house pocketed one of the bills.
“He took it from his buddy, thinking it was a real bill,” Handshoe said.
That man attempted to pass the bill at a local convenience store but was confronted by the clerk. The man fled, but police were able to track him down.
Because the man did not complete the transaction, he was not charged with a crime.
Handshoe said the common practice for criminals is to offer a large denomination fake bills, typically a $50 or $100, at the cash register for $5-$10 worth of items. The criminal comes out with $95 or $90 in real currency, and the store is out that money and the products which were purchased.
In another instance, a woman attempted to purchase a bottle of soda with a $50 bill. The clerk refused the bill, saying there was not enough change in the drawer to complete the transaction. The woman left the convenience store.
In one of the half-dozen cases the police department has investigated, a true counterfeit bill was passed.
Within the last two weeks, Handshoe and Patrolman Dwight Miller were called to respond to the report of a large amount of cash in the road. When the two officers responded, they found 26 $100 bills. All of them were gaming money bills, not real currency.
Handshoe said the general public and cashiers should be inspecting all bills closely, particularly large denominations.
“If it’s questionable, they should reject it or call their local law enforcement,” Handshoe said.
Cashiers can also ask to see a person’s identification before accepting the bill.
“If it’s a fake bill, they aren’t going to leave a copy of their ID,” he said.