Police ‘close’ to arrest on counterfeit money incidents

Thomas Garcia

Tucumcari Police are investigating three reports of counterfeit money being passed at local retailers.

“We are very close to making an arrest,” said Deputy Chief Peter Rivera.

Rivera said detectives are close to obtaining a warrant for one suspect believed to be responsible for two of the reports.

“We feel the third incident is separate from the first two,” Rivera said.

Rivera said the quality of the counterfeit money collected from the first two incidents was lower than the one collected from the third.

“The first two bills you could tell just from the feel and coloring of the ink,” Rivera said. “The third was a higher quality reproduction.”

Rivera said so far the denomination of the counterfeit bills have been large; $50 and $100.

“The thing to look for is someone paying for a small item like a candy bar with a $100 (bill),” Rivera said.

Rivera said many times the people will go into business during a busy period to pass the bills when the cashiers are rushing to serve the next customer in line.

“We train all of our cashiers to carefully observe the bills, even if there is a long line at the checkout,” said Brian Woodward, manager ALCO Discount Stores.

Woodward said along with detection pen, cashiers are taught tips and tricks to spot counterfeit cash.

The staff at Everyone’s Federal Credit Union uses several techniques to spot counterfeit money, said CEOAndi Baum.

Baum said one specialized piece of equipment is called a fake finder .

“This piece of equipment uses a special light spectrum to detect fake money,” Baum said.

Baum said the staff also uses pens which will identify counterfeit bills and they receive training to spot fake money.

“There is a raised potential for people to try and pass counterfeit currency during the holiday season,” Baum said.

Baum said with the advancements of technologies it’s becoming easier for someone to try and reproduce money.

“Our practices have aided in minimizing the number of questionable bills we deal with,” Baum said.

Baum said the Credit Union has only dealt with two questionable bills, one was proven to be real the other was a fake bill brought into their establishment.

“Even with the low number of incidents we still want our staff to remain diligent,” Baum said.

Baum said as new staff is trained, the current staff is present to review the training.

In Texas, there has been a rise in the incidents of counterfeit money over the past month. Rivera said he hopes the incidents of counterfeit money in Tucumcari are isolated from the rash of fake money being passed in Texas.

“We hope this is just a passing thing and not the start of a larger problem,” Rivera said. “We will continue to investigate all incidents of counterfeiting and do our best to arrest those responsible.”