Law enforcement warns of fake money during holidays

- Local law enforcement is warning people to watch out for fake money this holiday season. It's not just counterfeit bills, over the past year there's been an uptick in prop money being used as well. 

Austin Police say in many cases, people using Craigslist or Facebook are deceived during the one-on-one exchange. They say the best thing to do, is to compare the money you get with genuine currency. 

Some fake bills are easier to spot than others but APD Detective Mike Morgovnik says you can always check by looking at the security features. 

"There's going to be a holographic image of the face of the president. There's usually going to be, there's a strip that's printed inside the money that has the denomination of the currency that it actually is. The best and easiest, is the color shifting ink," says Detective Mike Morgovnik, APD's Financial Crimes Unit.

Pflugerville Police say they had a counterfeit incident in their area on November 8th. They are asking for the public's help in identifying the woman in surveillance video at the Weiss High School football game. Officers were alerted by parents working concession stands for the booster club that they had received some counterfeit bills. 

"The parents who reported it to us said that they felt like the bills were very crisp and were almost stuck together, that's when they decided to take a little bit of a closer look. When you look at them, it almost seems like the bill wasn't completely printed on the paper correctly. So, it was pretty obvious that these were counterfeit bills," says Sara Bustilloz, public information officer, Plugerville Police Department. 

The Lockhart Police Department says they had a similar problem back in August. Businesses saw an increase in bills with Asian lettering being passed in the area. 

The Austin Police Department says during the past year, they've seen an uptick in prop money being used. If you take a close look, it will say "for motion picture use only." Detective Morgovnik says when it comes to counterfeit money, at face value it looks real. When someone tries to pass money like that, the charge is forgery by counterfeiting which is a third-degree felony. Prop money and Asian character money is theft, rather than counterfeit, because the printing on the note makes it clear that it is not trying to appear to be legitimate currency. 

"There's been more of that in Austin probably in the last year to year and a half. A lot of this stuff, it's available online. It's basically considered a novelty. So it's not illegal to have it, the problem is when people try and deceive other people," says Det. Morgovnik. 

The biggest advice: to carefully look at the money you receive. 
 

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