Three SH residents arrested for allegedly passing counterfeit bills

Sweet Home police have arrested three people, with more arrests possible, after a rash of counterfeit bills being passed in town during the last few weeks.

Police Chief Jeff Lynn said his department has received eight reports of forged money since Dec. 1.

At the end of September and early October of this year local businesses reported receiving several fake bills, in denominations of $100, $20 and $10.

“We usually have a handful a year, if that,” Lynn said Friday.

Sgt. Jason Van Eck acknowledged that the number of reports this month has been “definitely an anomaly.”

The vast majority of the most recent counterfeit bills have been $20s, though some $5 fakes have been spotted as well.

The three arrested so far on first-degree forgery charges, a felony, are Austin R. Richards, 26; Davy A. Phillips, 47; Kaby Keith-Heidt, 23, all of Sweet Home. Lynn said police “anticipate a fourth arrest soon” and have other suspects.

Lynn said a search warrant conducted last week in Lebanon “may stop some of this.”

The bills that have been passed all are “similar, consistent, connected in some way,” he said.

Van Eck said the quality of the counterfeits is poor, and that people who are paying attention should recognize that something is wrong.

He said one recipient “got distracted by a customer who passed the bill and didn’t pay attention.”

The bills have “poor cutlines” and are a little smaller than normal bills, Van Eck said.

“They’re not showing any of the security features. They’re not reacting to the pen like they should.”

Anyone in possession of a suspected fake should bring it to the Police Department or take it to a bank, they said.

“We really encourage people to use (counterfeit detection) pens,” Lynn said.

The pens leave a dark brown color on counterfeit bills while the mark on a legitimate bill is yellow, Van Eck said. The texture of a bill can provide a clue as well, and people should keep an eye out for smeared ink and money that looks like it’s been cut out with scissors.

Bills also show signs they are legitimate when held up to the light, Van Eck said.

Genuine bills have a vertical ribbon in them with text that spells out the bill’s denomination. Bills have watermarks and an additional portrait visible on the right side of the bill. They also have a blue line and tiny yellow numbers across the plain part of the bills.

Security features for each denomination are outlined at http://www.uscurrency.gov/denominations.

“Any business that’s taking cash should be marking them,” Van Eck said. It just takes a second to confirm a bill is real. “At least hold them up to the light and look for the watermarks.”

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