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Police warn of fake $20 bills

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Counterfeit bills are able to pass a pen test that usually catches fake currency.

By SHAINA STOCKTON, Staff
The Galax Police Department is warning the public about reports of counterfeit $20 bills received by several local businesses.
A local bank reported seeing several of these counterfeit bills turned in by local merchants, according to Galax Police Capt. James Cox. The merchants, he said, are unaware that the money they are turning in to the bank is counterfeit.
Many of these counterfeit bills were turned in marked with a special pen used by cashiers to test the currency. Most counterfeit bills will interact with the pen, causing it to turn a different color. This test, however, isn’t catching the fake bills the banks are seeing.

“Whatever paper they are printing [the bills] on is working with the pen,” Cox said.
The department has found other ways to identify the fake currency. Each bill has the same serial number printed on it: JE51498522F. Andrew Jackson appears darker on the bills, and when the bill is held to light, the hologram of Jackson on a real bill isn’t present.
Police warn merchants to avoid using pens and to look for these flaws instead to spot counterfeit bills.
“If you receive one of these bills, please contact the Galax Police Department immediately or your local law enforcement agency,” Cox warns in a community alert message. “Do not alert the customer that you have notified law enforcement. You may refuse the bill if you wish, as it is worthless and will not be replaced.”
If a customer seems suspicious, Cox noted that any physical description of them (sex, race, age, hair color and description, clothing, scars, tattoos, etc.) or their vehicle (appearance of vehicle, tag number, or direction of travel) should be written down to help the department’s investigation.
The number for the Galax Police Department is (276) 236-8101.