The sheriff’s office receives two to three complaints each month about counterfeit money, which is passed through Charlotte County regularly, according to Cpl. Paul Guyton.
On Friday, Guyton, who serves as the agency’s Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist, provided some tips for recognizing counterfeit money and information on trends in the county.
Guyton said there are two different types of fake currency — actual counterfeit bills and “similitudes,” which are printed for films or sometimes used in wedding ceremonies in other cultures where money is thrown at the couple.
These bills, which state in Turkish they are not genuine, have been found in Charlotte County, often at gentleman’s clubs where dancers may think they are making good money but are disappointed to learn the cash isn’t real.
J-notes, which are printed with an ink jet printer, are identifiable with a microscope because specks of color are visible in the background, because the printers jet out colored ink.
“That’s not how the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, that’s not how it works,” Guyton said.
These are often printed on resume paper, which is made of cotton fibers like real currency. Twenties are passed around more than larger bills, which contain more security features such as a watermark and glossy ink on the numerals.
In a recent Craigslist transaction, Guyton said a seller received fake currency stacked in between genuine bills. Counterfeits are most likely to be passed in retail locations at busy times, he said.
“The merchant is on a pay day Friday, the line is 15 deep, the cashier is overwhelmed,” he said. “They don’t pass them on a Sunday at 10 a.m. at CVS.”
One counterfeit investigation resulted in the recent arrest of a woman who is now being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney in the Middle District of Florida.
Another warrant is out for a woman named Andrea Maher, who is accused in a counterfeiting operation of which CCSO seized more than $7,000.