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Police urge caution: Watch out for ’funny money’


By Officer Charles Patty

Citizens of La Vernia, beware! There has been some “funny money” being passed around our city. Your friendly La Vernia Police Department wants you to know how to keep from becoming a victim of these unscrupulous counterfeiters.

If you get a fake bill, the police won’t be giving you a replacement; stores and banks will probably confiscate it. Passing a counterfeit bill is illegal; you might even be questioned by police.

The loss could be covered by your homeowner’s or rental insurance policy, up to $500 or $1,000, depending on the policy. Unlike with most losses, the reimbursement amount typically isn’t subject to your policy’s deductible. Check your own insurance policy.

How can you avoid getting stuck with funny money? It is important to learn what the security features are, because if you end up with a counterfeit bill, you will lose that money. A counterfeit bill cannot be exchanged for a genuine one, and it is illegal to knowingly pass counterfeit currency.

For consumers, the best way to know whether a $20 paper bill is genuine is by touch and sight of the three key security features. The security features are the watermark, an embedded security thread, and color-shifting ink.

On a $20 bill, move your finger across President Jackson’s collar. The bill should feel slightly rough to the touch, due to the raised printing and unique composition of the paper.

Next, look for the following anti-counterfeiting security measures built into the $20 bill:

Portrait watermark: Hold the note to light and look for a faint image of President Jackson in the blank space to the right of the portrait. The image is visible from both sides of the note.

Security thread: Hold the bill to the light and look to the left of President Jackson’s portrait; you will see a security thread that reads “USA TWENTY” and includes a small flag. It is visible from the front and back of the note, and also glows green under ultraviolet (UV) light.

Color-shifting ink: Tilt the note to see the number 20 in the lower right corner change from copper to green.

If you think you may have received a counterfeit bill, immediately notify the La Vernia Police Department. Try to remember the name, if given, and physical characteristics of the person who passed it. Keep the suspected counterfeit bill separate from other money and give it to law-enforcement authorities as soon as possible.

Business owners and employees should always follow your business policy when dealing with possible counterfeit bills and customers presenting them. The person presenting the bill may be a victim as well. Always attempt to determine the authenticity of a suspected bill and contact the local police as soon as possible.

Write down as much as you can remember about the person and the vehicle, including the license plate.

It should be noted that counterfeit-detection pens are not always accurate and may give you false results.

For more information, contact the La Vernia Police Department or visit or

Learn these simple steps and take a bite out of crime.

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