City of Barron Police Investigator Nathan Emmons warns retailers and the general public that fake $100 bills are back in Barron County. The fake $100s were found in the last two days in the city of Barron. They are counterfeit $100 bills with Chinese language symbols stamped on the front and back in red or pink ink. No other fake denominations like $50s or $20s have been seen.

“The fake $100s are easy to detect because of the Chinese writing on them,” Emmons said. “The fakes have the regular blue stripe in the paper but they are missing other security features. It should be easy to recognize that it is not real money, but for some reason, people are not paying attention when they are accepting money. It’s really obvious.”

Investigator Emmons said he recently heard the money is sold online in the U.S. and is used in China for training Chinese bank tellers to become familiar with U.S. money. So far, only fake $100 bills have been seen in Barron County. A quick check on Google shows several companies sell the fake $100s, with and without the Chinese writing.

Both the Barron City Police Department and Barron County Sheriff’s Department are involved in the investigation.

Area-wide problem

Emmons said Barron County Sheriff’s Department arrested an adult recently on other charges who had one of the fake $100 bills in his possession. A City of Barron Police officer also dealt with an adult suspect who had one of the fake bills. “One who had the fake money was from Prairie Farm, so it’s not just Barron. It’s in the area,” Emmons said. “All three instances we have had have been adults.”

The $100 bills with Chinese symbols were found in the currency stream from Oregon to Florida in 2017 but first turned up in Barron County a couple of months ago, Emmons said. “The business that found the bill here didn’t know who it came from. They believe the fake bill was inside a group of bills in a larger purchase, and they didn’t notice it at the time of sale."

Federal Crime

Emmons said the suspects cannot be charged with manufacturing counterfeit money because they didn’t print it themselves; however, passing counterfeit money is a Federal offense which carries fines of $15,000 or higher and up to 20 years in prison. None of the cases have gone to court.

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New Scanner Helps Stores Spot Counterfeit Bills

Friday, December 22, 2017 | By Steve Briggs

GRANTSBURG––The yellow marking pen that store clerks previously used to check for counterfeit currency have been replaced.

Now a small, electronic scanner uses ultraviolet light (blacklight) to make sure the paper money contains a strip of reflective colored ink that is embedded into the bill.

A clerk at Sinclair in Grantsburg said the pen that put a yellow mark on a real bill and a black mark on a fake bill had to be replaced. The counterfeiters have gotten smarter, she said.

Instead of using copier-style paper that is easily detectable as fake, the fake money makers now bleach one-dollar bills and then reprint them as larger denominations like $20s, 50s and $100 bills. The marking pen detects the paper as federal paper – real currency – so the mark remains yellow even though the bill has been faked.

The new bill checker is about the size of a credit card, but thicker. When you buy something and present a $20 bill, the clerk can run the scanner over the bill. If it’s real, the clerk will see a green stripe on the $20 bill. If the bill is fake, the clerk won’t see the colored stripe and knows it’s counterfeit. The store has been using it for a while and says it works very well.

The Federal Bureau of Engraving and Printing that makes the paper money added a different color for each denomination of bill. On the $5 through $100 bills the clerk will see blue on the $5, orange on the $10, on up to pink on the $100 bill. Also, each denomination’s color stripe is in a different spot on the bill.

This new feature on U.S. currency makes it difficult for counterfeiters to reproduce, but not every store has the new system, so counterfeiters are successful at passing some bad bills.

The fake money hasn’t been a big problem recently at Burnett County stores, said Sinclair Store Manager Laura Birkaker. “Pine City was pretty hard with fake bills, but not so much here,” she said.

If the bill wasn’t checked by a cashier, it may not be caught until it gets to the bank. “They have a much more sophisticated system than ours,” she said. “There are a lot of places that get a fake bill but don’t realize it until they hear from the bank.

“About four months ago we took a bill here that looked 100 percent real, and everyone at the bank looked at it. Their machine detected and rejected it."

The little blacklight machines cost about $30 and can be purchased at and store supply companies.

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