What is being called “amateur hour” counterfeiting was discussed at a recent meeting of Butler County police chiefs, county law enforcement officials, the FBI and the Secret Service, said Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser.
He said counterfeit money is being produced on copy machines, then passed off as authentic. Despite the advancements in copy machines, he said, counterfeiters have been unable to duplicate the proper paper stock.
“There’s just a different feel,” Gmoser said. “It’s a better quality.”
He said the government protects the currency paper stock like casinos protect poker chips.
“You can’t go out and buy it,” he said of the paper.
Typically, he said, counterfeit money is passed at small merchants who may have hired less experienced employees. The cashier may take in a $50 counterfeit bill for a small purchase, then give change.
“Then the owner comes in and says, ‘How did this get in here?’” he said.
In Middletown, there was a 16 percent increase last year for calls for service for possible counterfeiting, according to police records. Police investigated 36 reports last year, up from 31 in 2014, according to records.
The most recent case involved a Trenton woman who told Middletown police that her son and girlfriend gave her $111 to pay their utility bill last month. But when she tried to spend the money she was told it was counterfeit.
She said her son and girlfriend, who live on Wilbraham Road in Middletown, gave her five $20 bills and 11 $1 bills.
She contacted her attorney and was told to file a report with Middletown police. Detectives are investigating, according to the police report.
A man who answered the phone at the woman’s house in Trenton said he didn’t want to comment on the case.
Several phone messages left at the home of the son were not returned to the Journal-News.