In August 2017 the Anchorage Police Department took 87 fraud reports regarding counterfeit money that had been passed during transactions. The sophistication of the bills being passed in Anchorage is low; the fake money is easy to spot if a few moments are taken to examine it.
Legitimate money is 75% cotton and 25% linen which feels a whole lot different than regular paper which is primarily made of wood pulp. Aside from the paper, the fraudulent bills APD has seen have included money with a front but a white blank back, bills with a back side printed on both sides of the paper, and print that does not line up properly so that there is a white paper border visible around the edges (see attached photos). Most of the forged money has been $10, $20 and $50 dollar bills.
Money is still the safest form of payment as opposed to personal checks or cashier checks. If you’re in the position of accepting cash, whether it be for a business or a personal transaction, take a few moments to really look at the money you’re accepting. Make sure it feels like money and not regular paper. Look at both the front and back of each bill to verify it looks right. Hold the bill up to the light – you should see a hologram and color-shifting ink.
The secret service has an online guide called “Know Your Money” that gives written and illustrated examples of what to look for in legitimate bills. That document is also attached to this relase (click on the Know Your Money pdf file).
Forging dollar bills is a B felony – the highest level there is in property crime cases. Should you come into possession of fake bills, please contact the Anchorage Police Department at 786-8900 (press “0” to speak with an operator). An officer will respond to take a report and to collect the falsified cash as evidence.