Weather Alerts

FAKE CASH: Police Warn About Counterfeit Money

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Des Moines police say counterfeit money is popping up around the city, just in time for a busy holiday season of cash changing hands.

As a small business owner, Kelsey Mihalovich knows just how much work goes into to preparing for the holiday shopping season- “Make sure you have lots of inventory, so that`s smoothing we`ll start clear back in August, working on holiday stuff and then help, we also have to extra help through the holidays,” said Mihalovich, owner of Hinge in West Des Moines.

As a new business owner, Mihalovich says one thing she has come across, that she never really expected, is people writing bad checks. “It actually turns out to be pretty expensive,” she said.

Now, Mihalovich is also worried about counterfeit bills.

“A lot of money is going to be changing hands in the next coming months leading up to and through and after Christmas,” said Sgt. Jason Halifax with the Des Moines Police Department. He explained that the number of counterfeit cases increases during the holidays, but there are a few things store owners can do to protect their business.

For bills '96 and newer, there is a security thread that runs through the bill. Another telltale sign you might be dealing with fake cash, is if there's no water mark. “You hold up to the light you can see either a face or a number showing the dollar amount for the bill,” explained Sgt. Halifax.

Plus, counterfeit bills don't have the same feel, Halifax said, they are often thicker. Fake bills are often smaller in size, too.

Officials said any one of these things doesn't mean a bill is fake, but said if you are suspicious of that money you should refuse it, ask for another form of payment, and let police know.

Police say retailers aren’t the only ones that need to be on the lookout. Consumers also need to be wary of what bills they are getting as change.

“I returned lights for our garage we were going to put in, and I went and I returned them and I used my debit card so they gave me cash back and like I said I didn't think anything of it, it was three hundred dollar bills,” said Jake Snook from Ankeny. Snook says this happened about two weeks ago, at a home improvement store, and when he went to his bank to deposit the money, he was told one of the bills was fake.

“I didn't really know what to do,” said Snook, “I’m still at a loss of about a hundred dollars.” Snook says he has turned the bill over to the Ankeny Police Department.

Snook said now, he checks his bills no matter what, “Every time I get even 20 dollars back I check it, everywhere I go.”

Des Moines Police are still trying to figure out if the recent counterfeit purchases are related.