Bogus $100 bills passed in W.Va.

January 16, 1998


Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Martinsburg City Police Officer Mistie White would like to nab those involved in passing counterfeit $100 bills around Martinsburg, but she can't help but be impressed by the high quality of the phony money.

"The bills are outstanding," she said.

Martinsburg City Police are trying to determine who is passing the counterfeit bills.

Earlier this week, nine phony bills were passed at Wal-Mart and one at Sears, White said.

On Friday, after news of the counterfeit money broke, the police department received numerous calls from Martinsburg business owners, worried about whether they had received any of the counterfeit cash.

"It's just put hysteria into the community," White said.

Hagerstown City Police Sgt. Ken Wasilius said he has not heard of any of the counterfeit $100 bills being passed in Hagerstown.


White said the money she saw on Friday appeared to have been legitimate.

But she said the quality of the counterfeit money makes it hard to tell easily.

The police will meet with business officials who are worried about any money they have that might be fake and on how to spot the counterfeit bills, she said.

The counterfeit bills were all of the "old-style" $100 bills, not the newer $100 bills with the off-centered Benjamin Franklin portrait and other features that make them harder to counterfeit, White said.

White is gathering information through her investigation to pass on to the U.S. Secret Service office in Charleston, W.Va.

The Secret Service, in addition to duties protecting the president, is the law enforcement arm of the Treasury Department.

White said there are a couple of possible suspects in the case. She declined to release any information about them.

Finding counterfeit money in this area is relatively rare, especially "of this quality," White said.

Occasionally a person will try to pass off bills that were essentially photocopied on a copy machine, she said.

The counterfeit bills in this case are of the right color and paper to make them appear like the real bills, she said.

The bills were discovered by using a special "pen" that reacts to the ink and turns one color if the bills are real and another if the money is fake, she said.

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