Fake $100 bills are pouring into the Baltimore area, the largest chunk of a new batch of well designed but easy to detect counterfeit money turning up in banks along the East Coast, says the Baltimore Sun. The money-tampering technique – bleaching a $5 note, slowly scraping away the ink and superimposing the image of a $100 – isn’t new. The bogus C-notes are flooding Baltimore’s illegal money market at the rate of thousands of dollars weekly and account for more than half of the fake money seized in the area by the Secret Service. “It’s not being caught by the retailers,” said Secret Service agent Todd Kreisher. “It’s being caught by the banks. But then it’s too late.”
Counterfeiters bleach a real $5 bill until the green ink is washed away; then they put the blank paper into a common ink-jet printer, where a $100 bill design is applied. Digitally produced fake bills have grown from 1 percent of the fake money found in 1995 to about 40 percent today. The phony bills thwart a common tool used by cashiers to spot phony money paper, a litmus-test-like pen that can detect commercial-grade paper when the pen’s ink turns a darker color. The fake bills escape detection because the paper is real. Each real $100 bill has an image of Ben Franklin. When held up to the light, the authentic bill reveals a second, matching watermark image of Franklin. On the fake bills, the center image is of Franklin, but the watermark to the right indicates Abraham Lincoln, revealing its origin as a $5 bill.