Counterfeit money floating around Harlan

Published 3:58 pm Monday, February 13, 2023

Harlan County has recently seen a surge of counterfeit currency being passed into circulation, as a large number of fake $50 bills were discovered at multiple business locations.

Harlan City Chief of Police Winston “Wink” Yeary talked about the uptick in counterfeit currency during a recent interview.

“The entire area is being flooded with counterfeit $50 dollar bills,” Yeary said.

Yeary pointed out it is easy to determine whether the bills are counterfeit.

“When you first look at them, they look legit,” Yeary said. “But once you get them in your hand you can feel the difference.”

According to Yeary, all counterfeit bills contain one identical feature.

“They all have the same serial number,” Yeary said. “They are all ending in 1474 A, which is the easiest way to remember and watch for them.”

The bills also don’t stand up to other tests commonly used to determine if they are authentic.

“If you hit them with a marker, that will show they’re counterfeit,” Yeary said. “If you hold them up to the light, if the bill is real, you should see a watermark of the president’s face…also, you can feel the difference.”

The counterfeit bills have been discovered in multiple locations.

“We’ve gotten several complaints from area businesses,” Yeary said. “I’ve also talked to a detective in Virginia. They’re being flooded with the counterfeit bills over there also.”

There has been one recent arrest involving counterfeit money.

“We did make an arrest last week. Someone had spent one (counterfeit bill) and had another one in their possession,” Yeary said.

The bills have been showing up in Harlan for weeks.

“The first one we got was about three weeks ago from Walmart,” Yeary said. “We got another one from Smok’n Joes, we’ve gotten one from Mcdonald’s and one from Walgreens.”

Yeary noted the only counterfeit denomination so far has been $50.

Should anybody find themselves possessing bills they suspect may be counterfeit, they should contact the police.

“Give us a call and turn it in,” Yeary said. “We can’t give the money back, but we can take the counterfeit money.”

Yeary pointed out that counterfeit bills have no actual monetary value.

“It’s not currency; it’s contraband,” Yeary said. “We hold them for evidence, and after they’re used as evidence, they’re destroyed. They have no value whatsoever.”

Yeary noted counterfeit money does show up in the area now and then.

“You come across it on occasion,” Yeary said. “But in the last three weeks, we’ve just been inundated with the counterfeit bills.”

Counterfeit currency may be reported to the Harlan City Police Department at 606-573-1121.