By Larry Kline/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Havre businesses are on the lookout for counterfeit money, and the Havre Police Department is investigating after six illicit bills were turned in this month.
The department has been contacting people who used the bills at local stores and banks for information, police Lt. Russ Ostwalt said. Ostwalt said today the department doesn't have much to go on at this point. The Police Department has been in contact with the Secret Service office in Billings.
"They run the serial numbers for us to see if they've been passed anywhere else in the state," Ostwalt said. So far, none have turned up in any other city. "That leads us to believe that it originates here in Havre," he said.
The department has received four fake $100 bills and two $20 bills so far, Ostwalt said. The serial numbers of the $100 bills have all been identical: BI70303242A, with I9 on a separate line. Ostwalt said businesses should check the serial numbers of the $100 bills they receive and use marking pens to check all new large bills.
Businesses can verify new bills by using a special pen and by looking for identifying marks, such as magnetic strips and holograms.
Cindy Knudson, service manager at Wells Fargo, said the bank has received a counterfeit $5 bill and one fake $20. The bank uses a currency counter, which picks up magnetic and ultraviolet distinguishing marks, to check for fake money.
Knudson said she has purchased the special pens for the bank's business customers to use. The ink will remain yellow on the bill if it's real and turn to dark brown or black if it's a fake, she said.
"You can't guarantee that they're going to check every bill," she said. "But it's a good starting point."
Knudson said everyone needs to be aware of the problem. People should check their bills, whether they get them in change from the supermarket or at a bank.
Knudson can remember a case of counterfeit $20s going around town a few years ago. She said those fakes were a lot more obvious than the current ones.
"They were just basically photocopies," she said.
Denise Ladenburg, compliance officer at Indepedence Bank, said all tellers at the bank have the marking pens. She said she recommends all businesses in Havre use them. The bank received a counterfeit $100 bill on Tuesday.
Gary & Leo's IGA assistant manager John Malisani said the store hasn't received any fake money. He said all checkout operators have the pens and are advised to use them.