There has been a trend of fraudulent bills being passed off to local businesses in Jennings County in the last month, with a total of three reports to the North Vernon Police Department (NVPD) and one arrest.

The first counterfeit bill was reported and recovered on August 19 in the area of State Road 7 North.

The next report didn’t occur until September 2 when NVPD officers responded to a call to the local Walmart. During the investigation, it was determined a counterfeit bill was used at the Jay-C gas station. Parris Bullock, 28 of Indianapolis, was arrested for the initial charges of driving while suspended prior, counterfeiting: forgery, and theft.

The very next day, officers responded to Walgreens regarding a fraud reported involving a money gram.

The most recent report happened on September 5 when a fraudulent bill was passed at a business in the 1600 block of North State Street.

“It seems to go in spurts,” NVPD Sergeant Andrew Richmond said of the recent profusion of counterfeits. “We will get a little string of them, then it will settle down for a while, then pop back up. It goes in cycles.”

When asked if it was likely one or multiple people were responsible for creating the fake money, Sgt. Richmond responded, “Realistically, it could be multiple people with as easily as someone can purchase or borrow a higher quality ink jet printer that will print double sided pictures. Viola, you have a fake bill.”

Sgt. Richmond added that they are currently working on an investigation where a person mentioned knowing another person who was printing fake bills. That investigation is ongoing and thus could not go into details.

In legal terms, there is a difference between forgery and counterfeiting. Forgery is the crime of producing, making, or adapting objects or documents with the intent to defraud another. When forgery leads to someone being deceived out of money, additional charges may be added. Counterfeiting is making or creating an unauthorized imitation of a genuine article with the intent to defraud.

According to Sgt. Richmond, the charges locally would be forgery, a level 6 felony.

“That would be for knowingly possessing or producing a fraudulent bill,” the sergeant said. “The penalty could be worse if the Secret Service would pick up a federal charge on it, though. I don’t know the details of what would make them get involved, but we do notify the Indianapolis office of every fake bill we encounter.”

With the recent spike in fake money, employees may need to be more vigilant when handed paper money. Sgt. Richmond added that businesses will typically use the counterfeit bill detector pens which can be purchased at any Walmart or online. Another way to detect fake bills is to compare the shape and size with a known real bill.

“All bills are cut by a machine to very specific standards, so if you compare a suspect bill to one that isn’t quite right, there’s a good chance the size will be off slightly. That’s a dead giveaway,” said Sgt. Richmond. “Missing security strips is another, but that will only be in 20’s or up. Another is looking for the small red and blue fibers mixed in the paper; this is hard to replicate with a printed copy.”

To any cashier who may be handed fake money, Sgt. Richmond has two suggestions: 1. The cashier could refuse the sale, or contact their supervisor to evaluate the sale; 2. Report it. The counterfeit bill needs taken out of circulation, and that usually happens when an officer comes in contact with and seizes it.