Bogus Bucks Surface In Payson


Counterfeit money has turned up in some local businesses over the past few months.

Payson Police Lt. Don Engler said counterfeit bills have been reported at a local bank and fast food restaurant recently.

While Engler said he is not seeing an alarming increase, he said that the Payson Police Department may not always be notified of the counterfeit money.

"We are called on some of these cases, but sometimes vendors report the counterfeit money directly to the federal government and we don't hear about it," Engler said.

"People who find counterfeit money can call the Payson Police Department," Police Sgt. Tom Tieman said. "We can investigate it if there is a suspect to contact, but we always mail the bill and the information directly to the Secret Service. We are finding that more vendors are just contacting the Secret Service."

The Mazatzal Casino has had to take extra measures because of a recent influx of fake money, CEO Jim Gannarelli said.

"I have heard that some of our local vendors are having problems with this as well," Gannarelli said. "We started seeing an influx about three months ago. We have had at least six incidents."

Gannarelli said most of the bills have been 20s, but they have had smaller bills as well.

"It's kind of unique how they are doing it -- they are using computers" he said. "It's pretty good."

"Most vendors have been taught how to detect counterfeit (money)," Tieman said.

To combat fake money, every employee of the casino who makes change has a machine that recognizes counterfeit money.

"What we have done here is that we have battery-operated machines that we fit in our change carts," Gannarelli said. "The slot machines already recognize counterfeit money, so they have to pass it off through one of our change people."

The machines shine an ultraviolet light on the bill which highlights the hologram present on real bills. If there is no hologram, the bill is a fake.

Tieman said counterfeit-detection equipment is available through the Secret Service or the Attorney General's Office.

When a counterfeit bill is discovered, the money is confiscated and sent to the federal government as required by law.

Gannarelli said the person who passed the bill is often unaware it is fake.

"We interview the person and notify the police department," Gannarelli said. "It's difficult to prove someone knows they are using counterfeit money. We take the bill and we ask them where they got it, but it could happen to any one of us."

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