SIDNEY — Law enforcement agencies throughout Ohio now have the ability to charge a person with counterfeiting, a fifth-degree felony. The new law, said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart during his weekly interview, became official on Jan. 1, 2019. If found guilty of the charge, the person faces up to a $2,500 fine and six to 12 months in county jail.
According to statistics provided by the Secret Service, there are more than $147 million in counterfeit bills in circulation in the nation today.
“They can be ones, fives, 10s, 30s, 50s and 100 dollar bills,” said Lenhart. “In January of this year marks the first time we can make an arrest for counterfeiting. This is a big deal for local law enforcement.”
Lenhart encourages anyone who thinks they have a counterfeit bill to turn it into the sheriff’s office or other police departments in the county.
“If you think you have a counterfeit bill, don’t touch it more than necessary to protect DNA and fingerprints on it. Put it in a plastic baggie and seal it. Write down the description of the person you received the bill from. Also, if you’ve seen the vehicle they were driving, write that down also.”
Call or take the bill to the sheriff’s office or police department, he said.
“Report it to law enforcement,” said Lenhart. “And maybe we can prevent this from happening to another person.”
Lenhart said there are different ways to tell if a bill is counterfeit or not.
The color and ink in the bill isn’t correct, he said.
“New money has blue and red threads in it,” he said. “If the borders are blurry, the bill might be counterfeit. If the person’t face on the bill is blurry, it might be counterfeit.”
The feel of the counterfeit bill will be different than a legal bill.
“If you’re a business person, you should regularly train your employees what to look for in a counterfeit bill,” said Lenhart. “You can buy marking pens at the store ant that will tell you if the bill is counterfeit.
“There are also machines you can buy for $200 which will tell you if the bill is counterfeit,” he said. “If you receive a bill and when you look at it, the bill doesn’t look right, ask the retailer or teller to give you another bill.”
The last person with the counterfeit bill, is out the dollar amount on the bill, he said.
President Abraham Lincoln formed the Secret Service to deal with counterfeiting. At the time of his presidency one of three bills in circulation were counterfeit. Allan Pinkerton was the first director.
“After President Lincoln created the Secret Service, he was assassinated that night at the Ford Theater,” said Lenhart.
The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.