How Common is Counterfeit Money During the Holidays?
As Thanksgiving fast approaches, there is a holiday buzz in the air. Everyone is preparing to shop and spend greater amounts of money in the coming month than they do all year. South Florida store owners need to keep a sharp eye as counterfeit money is unfortunately extremely common in the area, and Secret Service is seeing a spike in the amount of counterfeit bills in circulation already.
Counterfeit Money in South Florida
According to WPTV News, South Florida is one of the top areas in the country for counterfeit money. Ron Remer with the Secret Service counterfeit division in Miami stated in an interview: “This week we’ve almost hit $85,000 in counterfeit currency, and we’re not even at Black Friday yet.” Counterfeiting money is a very serious type of fraud.
As for national ranking in trafficking counterfeit notes, South Florida trails just behind New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. According to WPTV News, law enforcement tracks $60,000 to $80,000 a week in counterfeit bills in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties, Remer said, and it’s only getting more severe as the holidays roll around.
The common trend for counterfeiters is to target very busy stores with overwhelmed cashiers. Many counterfeiters used bleached and reprinted bills that will generally pass the pen test most retailers use, but they will not pass the watermark test. Secret Service is requesting that retailers take a further step in attempting to detect counterfeit bills and check for the watermark on each bill.
According to WPTV News, Boynton Beach Police are looking for a man who found another way to convert counterfeit bills. He used counterfeit $100 bills to buy more than $2,000 in gift cards from a Walmart last week.
Shoppers who think they’ve been given a counterfeit bill should call the U.S. Secret Service’s 24-hour hotline at 305-863-5050.
Fraud Criminal Defense
Counterfeiting bills is a federal felony. Secret Service is in charge of investigation. If you are convicted of fraud by counterfeiting money, you could be facing up to 15 years in prison, hefty fines, confiscation of property, and paying restitution. If you unknowingly used counterfeit money and have been accused of a crime, a South Florida criminal defense attorney can help you.