Funny Money Shows Up In Tulsa Area

Friday, August 21st 2009, 3:54 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Counterfeit $100 bills have recently shown up at a Tulsa-area poker game and a garage sale. Investigators believe the bills are being made in Missouri and passed in Oklahoma.

The bills are good enough fakes that they even fool those pens specially made to detect counterfeit bills.

Garage sales are largely based on trust. One person sells a used item to another in exchange for cash.

Some garage sales raise money for charity - like a recent sale for the Leukemia Society.*

Angela Helms was having a sale to save up for a wedding, when that trust went bust.

"A lady came up, picked out a few items and paid with $100 bill, and when we went back to the bank to deposit it, they told us it was counterfeit," said Angela Helms.

The lady, who was tall, blonde, attractive and had children with her, walked away with 94 real dollars in change. The counterfeit bills aren't just showing up at garage sales but at businesses, too.

The method of making them is clever enough to fool most people.

"The counterfeiters are washing real $5 bills then printing $100 bills over on the top of it so if you use a pen to see if it's real or not, it looks like a legitimate bill. It's just not a $100 bill," said Rick Brinkley with the Better Business Bureau.

It's best to the hold the bill up to the light and check the security thread, which has the denomination of the bill printed in tiny letters. On the fakes, it says five where it should say 100.

Then, check the watermark, which is a hidden image of the president. The counterfeits have an Abe Lincoln watermark, who's on the five. They should have Benjamin Franklin, who's on the 100.

"The reality is if you get stuck with one of these, you're stuck with it," Rick Brinkley of the Better Business Bureau said.  "The bank won't take it.  You've lost the money you've given the counterfeiter, and you're stuck holding the bag."

Garage sale holder Angela Helms realizes that all too well and too late.

"I was mad," she said.

Helms says the next time, she'll check all the bills and will be suspicious of anyone buying a little and paying a lot.

* The garage sale to benefit the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society continues Saturday, Aug. 22 at 4418 E. 38th St.