Appearances are not everything, as demonstrated by a counterfeit $100 bill that floated through a local business and ended its circulation at Bank of America where its true identity was discovered.
The bill was originally printed as a $5 Lincoln. When counterfeiters were through washing and reprinting it, however, it became a nearly perfect $100 Benjamin Franklin.
The money may have continued its deceitful ways had it not been for Dionne Lloyd, an alert teller at the Payson branch of Bank of America.
"She has a good eye for detecting counterfeit bills," Brenda Carnes, the bank's operations manager, said.
The big problem merchants face with bills that have been "washed" in this fashion is that they avoid detection by the counterfeit detection pens used by cashiers to determine if a bill is legal tender.
"The merchant used the pen on this $100 bill, and it did not indicate it was counterfeit," Carnes said.
The counterfeiters are taking legal tender bills, washing the ink out of the paper, and reprinting the currency at higher dollar amounts.
However, when the fraudulent bills are held up to light, the watermark from the original print is still visible.
"Merchants need to hold the bill up to a light and make sure the (watermark) matches the face on the bill," Carnes said. "We have had quite a few merchants take a loss lately with counterfeit bills."
Carnes said her bank has been seeing an increase of counterfeit bills recently, most of which are detectable.
"We will have the (found counterfeit) bill at the bank for a few days in case merchants want to look at it for detection purposes," Carnes said.
Counterfeit bills have also found their way to the local Wells Fargo bank, according to assistant manager John Schreur. "We have had an increase ... with several this year ... They are becoming more and more prevalent," Schreur said.
Schreur said that while the "biggest culprit" is the $20 bill, Wells Fargo tellers have come across $10 counterfeit bills as well. He advised merchants to watch every bill they are handed.
For more information on counterfeit bill detection, contact your local bank.