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Police investigate funny money in St. Helens

by: SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - It is more usual for police to see counterfeit $20 bills, but the fake $100 bills like the ones St. Helens investigators are looking at now are not uncommon.St. Helens police are investigating several fake $100 bills that appeared at local stores over the weekend.

Lt. Terry Moss says he expects more will show up this week as the banks begin processing weekend deposits from local merchants.

“It happens all the time,” Moss said about the counterfeiting. “Lately, there’s been quite a bit more.”

In the last month, police have seen two or three instances where counterfeit bills were passed at gas stations.

“If you looked at them carefully, under good light and took your time, you’d see they’re counterfeit,” Moss said about the $100 bills investigators discovered recently.

But often, he added, the clerks accepting the bills don’t have that kind of time. People purposefully pass on fake money during a store’s busy time when clerks are rushed, or the counterfeiters will go to younger, less experienced cashiers who may not be as adept at spotting the fake money.

Sometimes, the person trying to pay for items with fake money isn’t the counterfeiter, Moss said. Often this person received the money as change for another purchase somewhere else.

“They’re victims,” Moss said.

This makes counterfeiters difficult to track down, he added. The money can pass through many hands, or can sit in a till for days before it’s discovered. It is more common for police to see fake $20 bills, but fake $100 bills are not unheard of.