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Counterfeit money passed in Lawton, police report

Police are reporting an increase in counterfeit money in Lawton, Oklahoma. Several people have been seen using the bogus bills.
by Jonathan Sutton Modified: September 5, 2014 at 10:23 pm •  Published: September 5, 2014

They target small businesses, people at garage sales and those trying to sell goods through services like Craigslist.

They operate in Oklahoma City and in cities and towns across the state.

They are currency counterfeiters, and the fake bills they pass are more common than most would think, authorities said.

The most recent example was announced Friday in Lawton, where authorities said they are investigating a growing string of counterfeit cases.

“We have seen an increase in the amount of counterfeit money being passed at local business in the last few months,” Lawton police Capt. Craig Akard said. “These crimes are happening all over Lawton, mostly at convenience stores and the occasional fast food restaurants.”

Counterfeit bills most often are ferreted out at banks when those stores and restaurants try to deposit them, not realizing they are fakes. When banks detect such bills, they typically notify the U.S. Secret Service.

Adrian Andrews, special agent in charge of the Secret Service in Oklahoma, said Friday that about $5,000 in counterfeit money is discovered in Oklahoma City every week, and counterfeiters are often using websites like Craigslist to pass off their money.

Andrews said the use of counterfeit bills is relatively common across the state, and there are several things people can do to make sure they don’t end up with the worthless and illegal pieces of paper. He said most of the money they receive each week comes from situations where small businesses and people dealing with cash unknowingly accept counterfeited money.

When those people and businesses try to deposit the money in a bank, it is usually detected and turned over to the Secret Service or local police.

“Banks are very good at spotting fake bills because they deal with them all the time,” Andrews said.

It’s sometimes hard for ordinary people and businesses to spot the fakes because they just don’t know what to look for, Andrews said.

People should be especially wary when doing business person to person at a garage sale or on Craigslist, because that is one of the most common ways people pass fakes, Andrews said.

And when people do end up with fake bills, they’re pretty much out of luck. The government will not exchange counterfeit bills for actual money.

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by Jonathan Sutton
Breaking News Reporter
Jonathan Sutton is a reporter covering breaking news and crime for The Oklahoman and He grew up in Ada and has a degree in journalism from Oklahoma State University. He was the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily O'Collegian, OSU's student...
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