Counterfeit cash circulating in Newport

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NEWPORT, Tenn. (WVLT) -- It's yard sale season and the Newport Police Department said it's seeing an increase in the number of fake bills being used at yard sales and at businesses all across town.

The counterfeit bills range from $5s up to $100s - and at first glance, they might seem real. The owner of Brock's Market & Deli said people used to pay with fake cash a lot, causing a big headache when she went to the bank:

"They'd pick up on it - 'This bill is no good.' And you start getting $50s and $100s, then it's an impact," said Duane Moore, owner of Brock's Market & Deli.

So how can you tell if a bill is fake? Detective Lynn Shults said real money is stamped, so it will have texture.

"With a real bill, on the lapel where the president's head is - if you'll run your fingernail up and down it, you'll feel the ridges where the money is printed. On the counterfeit money, you'll not feel those," said Shults.

Many stores use special pens that write clear if a bill is real and turn dark brown or black if it's fake. But watch out - crooks have developed a way around the pen:

"If the money has been marked with deodorant, or ivory soap or any type of soap - it'll take it longer to bleed through. It might be the next night or the next day when you do your count of your cash register as to whether it bled through or made the dark mark," said Shults.

He recommends using a device that comes with a UV light and a magnetic reader instead, which you can buy online for about $7. If the money is real, its magnetic strip will cause the device to beep and the strip will light up under the UV light.

Brock's Market & Deli went one step further - and bought special money scanning machines to catch the counterfeits.

"I think they were a little over $100 and it's paid off ever since and the word spread that you couldn't bring bad money to Brock's," said Moore.

Detective Shults said if you catch someone paying with a fake bill, call police so officers can try to figure out where that bill originally came from.

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