BOSTON (CBS) – Local police say they’re seeing an increase in counterfeiters.
“There’s $8,900 in $100 bills,” Easton Detective Sergeant Michael Fox said as he opened an evidence envelope.
He says counterfeiting is like a virus. Once is starts, it spreads quickly.
“We’ve had maybe a half a dozen cases now which is very unusual,” Police Chief Allen Krajcik added. “It could be the economy but also I think the improvement in technology.”
One of the most bizarre cases involved a man from Easton arrested for using fake bills to bail himself and a friend out of jail in Bridgewater. When he was picked up the next day at his home in Easton, Detective Fox says officers found even more fake cash.
Two more recent cases are tied to the Easton Target store.
In one, a Maine man is accused of using two $100 bills that Chief Krajcik said were once fives, bleached out and reprinted.
“With these $100, if you hold it to the light, it says it is a $5 bill,” he said. Benjamin Franklin is on the bill, but Abraham Lincoln on the hologram to the side.
Target security cameras got a clear shot of that man, which helped police track him down. The cameras also caught a woman officers say used four $100 traveler’s checks.
“She bought a set of headphones and then turned them back in at another target in Braintree,” Detective Fox said. She’s also linked to a store in Seekonk.
The problem is traveler’s checks may be a bit harder to detect.
“It is just staying vigilant and keeping an eye out for this kind of stuff,” Fox explained. “You see these types of people cashing things and looking at their receipts and bringing stuff back in quickly.”
“I think for our part we’ve done a better job of catching it. We’re more aware of this situation and we’re trying to help and work the local area and police,” said Target Executive Team Lead Elizabeth Ritchie.
Easton police are praising Target for staying on top of the problem and are encouraging other local businesses to do the same.
“This is cash. It’s robbery. It’s a larceny so yes and it’s only going to get bigger as time goes on,” said Detective Fox.
Chief Krajcik wants criminals to know local law enforcement agencies and federal officials are working together and making arrests.
“We’re keeping up with it,” he said.
Police in Bridgewater have also seen an uptick.
But the U.S. Secret Service field office in Boston says agents there haven’t noticed an increase.
They do offer training to businesses, chambers of commerce and police departments on how to spot a fake.
One tell-tale sign is matching serial numbers since every bill should have its own. If convicted of federal charges related to counterfeiting, jail time could go up to 20 years.