ROCKFORD, IL - Garage sales are possibly a new target of counterfeiters. Rockford Police say three garage sales have fell victim to fake currency as of recent and they're using a wide variety of bills - many of them on the smaller side.
Cathy McClure is the most recent victim of counterfeit. Her multi-family garage sale brought in quite a chunk of change, but $90 of that was bogus money. McClure says she finally realized what had happened when she was counting the money.
"The texture didn't feel right and on the twenties the serial numbers were the same," said McClure.
McClure called police to report the fake money; police arrived and confirmed that she indeed was in possession of counterfeit bills. The potential criminals also took advantage of her granddaughter who was selling snacks and pop at the garage sale.
"I'm a little irate," said McClure. "I mean obviously you know in tough times now people are having a lot of yard sales, hoping to make money off of their treasures that can be sold to other people and then you find out that you've got counterfeit bills."
RPD says the descriptions they have received about who may have pawned the money off as real all vary, so police are left with zero leads. Police do say it is possible that the bills may have come from unsuspecting people who may have collected the counterfeits without knowing it also.
Vice President of Operations at Riverside Bank, Marsha Abramson, says her bank sees roughly $1,000 worth of counterfeit currency come through every year. The bank uses a currency sorter to find the fakes, and quarterly sends the counterfeit bills to the Secret Service, the governmental department in charge of investigating fake money.
"The quality of counterfeits have gotten better so they're harder to distinguish," said Abramson.
Abramson also mentions that it's not easy to discover counterfeit money with an untrained eye. Many know the watermark trick, holding a $20 bill up to a light and you see a watermark of President Jackson. Her bankers count hundreds of bills everyday so they can feel a difference like McClure.
"When the paper does change it becomes thicker or shiny so it feels smoother," said Abramson. "That's somehow how those will get detected by a teller."
McClure says she was armed with a counterfeit detecting pen at the garage sale. The pens are relatively inexpensive and easy to find in office supply stores and even discount department stores like Walmart. However McClure says with multiple people collecting money at the sale, she assumes not everyone used it.
Tens and fives were also discovered that were fake too. Rockford Police say counterfeit technology has become more streamlined and better, making it more cost effective for crooks to now produce smaller bills. RPD says years ago when the technology to counterfeit was more expensive, criminals didn't bother making smaller bills because the overhead wasn't worth the time.