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Two arrested for passing counterfeit $20 bills

A rash of bogus $20s are making the rounds in Duluth-Superior. "Right now we're on kind of a streak," said Capt. Charles LaGesse of the Superior Police Department. As of Friday, there had been numerous reports of counterfeit $20 bills and two arr...

A rash of bogus $20s are making the rounds in Duluth-Superior.

"Right now we're on kind of a streak," said Capt. Charles LaGesse of the Superior Police Department.

As of Friday, there had been numerous reports of counterfeit $20 bills and two arrests in Superior alone. One man was arrested buying food at Culver's and another trying to purchase sub sandwiches at Erbert & Gerbert's, LaGesse said. Both suspects were apprehended at the scene when alert cashiers notified police about the bogus bills. Neither has yet made an initial court appearance.

Separately, Culver's reported Thursday that a fake $20 was found in its till.

This morning, a Superior Police Department alert indicated that more counterfeit $20 bills had been found, with some discovered by financial institutions. The latest are serial numbers EB01399687G and K3710062A.

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"Please be careful when accepting $20 bills," Michael Jaszczak of the Superior Police Department wrote in a "Fraud tracks" e-mail.

"These 20s look pretty good," LaGesse said, but they are missing the security strip and watermark.

And they don't pass the touch test.

"The texture of these bills and all counterfeit bills -- the paper's wrong," LaGesse said. "These particular bills, they feel too slippery."

That's because they're made with paper or stock that has more paper than cloth in it. The U.S. Department of Treasury uses cloth that is 25 percent linen and 75 percent cotton to print currency.

Cashiers who pay attention should be able to spot the bogus bills, LaGesse said. But they could be missed when cashiers are in a rush.

"Retailers and those taking money should use caution," he said.

It's a federal crime to counterfeit money, so forgery cases can be prosecuted on a federal level.

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"Anybody who receives money they believe is counterfeit should dial 911," LaGesse said, and give police a description of the suspect and their vehicle.

New money

The U.S. Department of Treasury's multicolor bills were created to fight counterfeiting.

The series started with the release of the $20 note in 2003, and continued with the $50 note in 2004 and the $10 note in 2006. A redesigned $5 note is expected to be issued in early 2008 with the $100 note to follow.

The department offers materials on the new bills through its Web site: www.moneyfactory

.gov/newmoney/.

The U.S. Treasury also lists these features of new currency:

  • Color-shifting ink -- Look at the numeral in the lower right corner on the face of the note. When you tilt the note up and down, the color-shifting ink changes color from copper to green.
  • Watermark -- Hold the note up to the light and look for the watermark, or faint image, similar to the large portrait. It is part of the paper itself and it can be seen from both sides of the note.
  • Security thread -- Hold the note up to the light and look for the security thread, or plastic strip, that is embedded in the paper and runs vertically on one side of the portrait. It is visible from both sides and will glow under ultraviolet light.
Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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