Counterfeiters are giving a new meaning to the term money laundering, the Detroit News reports. Crooks are circumventing technology intended to stop fraud by washing or bleaching the ink from lower-denomination bills and reprinting them as larger denominations with sophisticated computer scanners and printers. The bills look and feel real because they are printed on real U.S. currency paper. They can’t be detected by iodine test pens used by cashiers to check for fakes because the paper is chemically correct.
Police across the U.S. report an uptick in the appearance of counterfeit money. A sudden influx was noted earlier this month in suburban Atlanta. Washed or bleached $20, $50 and $100 bills were reported last month in California, New York, Washington, Louisiana, and North Carolina. “These are the best counterfeits I’ve seen,” said Judge Michael Gerou, who spent his college years working in a bank. “One at a time, you could pass these all day long. Trying to do it eight at a time is what tripped our guy.”