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Fake Paper

This morning I went to Albertson's to grab some ham, some bacon, and some OJ. They open at 6, and I had yet to go to sleep, so I wanted a real breakfast. I gathered my items (the bacon is not near the ham, as I discovered, but is instead by the cheese - sandwich area, I guess?) and proceeded to checkout.

Two people in line in front of me was a 35-year old (approx.) thin black man in a yellow shirt paying for about $5 in groceries with a $100 bill. I overheard the clerk say "this isn't real, is it?" and he said "yeah, it is!" She marked it with one of those pens, it came out that brownish yellow, and she popped open the drawer for his change.

Being a few places back in line, I stared at the bill. It looked a bit funny - not as crisp as it should be (the printing, not the paper itself) and not black as it should be (color-shifting ink). I asked to see the bill, and the clerk handed it to me. The black man gave me a nervous look, and the elderly white gentleman between us did so as well.

I immediately noticed that the printing was pretty fuzzy, yet the paper wasn't too worn. The "100" in the corner did not change to black when I viewed it from an angle - it remained a green and lacked that tiny bit of shininess real bills have there.

When I lifted the bill to eye level, the obviousness of the scam came to light: a watermark of Lincoln appeared on the right side of the bill and the "FIVE USA" (etc.) strip appeared on the left. This was a $5 bill, washed and reprinted to look like a $100, with four very noticeable problems.

Counterfeiting is surprisingly easy. Dabbing fake paper - this was real paper, of course, reprinted in a different denomination - with Clorox or some other such base will fool those stupid "currency pens" that clerks seem to use as the final test.

I alerted the clerk to the problems and watched the man out of my right eye. After all, someone trying to pass fake paper may have a knife or a gun or otherwise get violent. I'm not sure what the penalty for a single infraction of counterfeiting may be, but it's surely "more than 100% freedom."

I saw the cashier step on a button and within 15 seconds a uniformed guard (not a policeman) arrived. Four minutes later some policemen arrived, I pointed out the flaws in the bill, and I checked out.

My total came to $7.37 and I paid with my debit card. 😛

6 Responses to "Fake Paper"

  1. I'd say you're ready for the Secret Service. 😉 Good work!

  2. Bravo, money forgery really sucks because in the end, someone has to eat that lost "money." It's good to end it right where it begins.

  3. Fake Paper

    NSLog(); - Fake Paper I alerted the clerk to the problems and watched the man out of my right eye. After all, someone trying to pass fake paper may have a knife or a gun or otherwise get violent. I'm not sure what the penalty for a single infraction of...

  4. Congrats Erik! This reminds me of the Ars article how they are going to change the 100 and 20 dollar bills yet again to help counteract the rampant forgery. While nothing is full proof, it's gotta get better.

  5. In an effort to thwart counterfeiters, apparently we're going to have new money soon. I like them. I've had run-ins with counterfeiters before....

  6. Just found one of these circulating in Los Angeles. 2-29-2004 they are still out there.


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