Counterfeit Money Seminar Led By The Experts

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Corky Barker, general manager of the Best Western Payson Inn, isn't about to fall for the fake money gag.

She learned how to identify counterfeit money during a training seminar Friday morning at Mazatzal Casino.

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Steve Salatti, cage/vault director, Mazatzal Casino.

There is, she said, a "whole new element" coming into town, and the seminar will help her company stay vigilant against receiving fake cash.

The casino opened the training seminar, usually held in-house for employees only, to Payson's business community after three people were arrested in April on charges of counterfeiting. The Secret Service, responsible for protecting the president and dealing with counterfeit money, gave the presentation.

"We want to attract enough attention to make it known that the town of Payson is taking a proactive approach," said Steve Salatti, cage/vault director at Mazatzal Casino.

Barker and 80 other employees from 21 area businesses listened to Special Agent Kenneth H. Huffer of the Secret Service describe the nuances of phony money.

Huffer told the audience the best protection is knowing how to tell the difference between real money and bogus bucks.

A magnifying glass, Huffer said, is one of the best tools to identify microprinting and inking unique to U.S. bills. It is also useful for identifying ink jet and toner copies of U.S. currency.

In Arizona, 70 percent of counterfeit money is made with an ink jet or toner-based copy of U.S. currency, Huffer said.

These copying methods do not produce true green, the predominant color on U.S. money, making them easy to spot through magnification.

Color-shifting ink in the bottom right-hand corner of a bill, a security strip embedded in the paper and a watermark to the right of the bill matching the president pictured on the note, are some of the easiest security features to spot on the newer bills.

"Now all of a sudden you need to have a higher level of understanding of the security features put in by the treasury department," Salatti said.

After noticing an improvement in the quality of fake money over the past year, the casino purchased scanners to serve as a deterrent against future counterfeiting and to help identify bad bills, Salatti said.

Since the scanners were implemented the casino has seen a decline in the frequency of counterfeit bills, Salatti said.

But, Salatti added, the training sessions are still required to educate employees without access to the scanners.

Wes Hathaway, owner of Payson Music Center, whose store received one of the counterfeit bills in April, said he doesn't worry about more counterfeit money floating around because the suspects were from out of town and it was the first time in 13 years that his business received a fake bill.

"(Payson) is a nice community and most of the people here are honest," Hathaway said.

Hathaway said he's confident that his employees will be able to spot fake bills in the future.

"We were always very good (about checking bills for authenticity)," Hathaway said. "That's why we caught (the counterfeiters)."

The April arrests gave hotel manager Barker a heightened sensitivity to the possibility of receiving counterfeit bills. Payson's growth and the influx of people from bigger cities make it more likely to happen here than in the past, she said.

Even though Payson is a small community, people shouldn't think counterfeiting is done and gone, Huffer said.

"You should always watch your money."

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