The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday December 9th

Local Police See Rise in Fake Money

By Stephanie Furr

Some area businesses have fallen prey to an outbreak of counterfeit money that police officials say could total at least $1,000 in confirmed reports.

Last week, Carrboro police received reports of three different incidents of counterfeit $50 and $100 bills received by businesses. But officials would not comment on possible connections between the crimes.

And while local law enforcement says such incidents are rare, state officials say the use of counterfeit bills is not unusual throughout North Carolina.

Food Lion Stores at 104 N.C. 54 reported a counterfeit $100 bill had been received between Oct. 13 and Oct. 15. The bill was discovered and returned when the store's earnings were deposited in the bank.

Food Lion Stores at 602-A Jones Ferry Road in Carrboro also reported an incident involving a fake $50 bill received Tuesday night, which was discovered by a manager when the bills were counted.

A third incident occurred at Short Stop Food Mart at 300 W. Main St. in Carrboro. The clerk reported that last Wednesday he received a counterfeit $100 bill in payment for a cigar and some beer.

Store manager Richard Stinson said the store usually practiced measures to prevent accepting counterfeit bills, including the use of a pen that leaves a differently colored mark on a real bill than it would on a fake one.

But Stinson said the store was busy, preventing the clerk from marking the bill until after the suspect had a chance to get away. "All you can do is be as careful as possible; that's with any business," he said. "There's so many ways they are doing it now, you can't always tell."

Capt. Joel Booker of the Carrboro Police Department said that in all currency matters, the Raleigh office of the U.S. Secret Service must be notified. Area authorities also are pursuing their own investigation. "Merchants - people in business bringing in the money - need to be aware of it, because it appears to be disguised well enough that they could slip up on you," he said.

Chapel Hill police investigator John Moore said the department has eight to 10 open cases from the last two months.

As a result of the crimes, Chapel Hill police are trying to educate the public about counterfeit money through informative posters and a video for merchants.

Craig Ulmer, resident agent in charge of the Raleigh office of the U.S. Secret Service, said education is the key to getting counterfeit bills off the street.

Ulmer said the Raleigh office consistently receives $4,000 to $8,000 in counterfeit bills each week from all types of businesses in eastern North Carolina. "I would like to help the public be aware of, number one, how to detect a counterfeit bill and also how to report it."

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