Pennsylvania – Counterfeit $100 bills have been popping up around Western Pennsylvania in the past month. Multiple reports of fake money have been made in Venango and Indiana Counties and near Pittsburgh.

If you are given a counterfeit bill and you accept it as cash, it becomes your bill.

Even though you can report what happened to police later and hope to catch the scam artist, victims rarely get their money back. It pays to be aware of the signs of a counterfeit bill.

Allen Clause, manager at Priority First Federal Credit Union, lists some of the ways you can tell a bill is real.

Another way that people are trying to pass fake bills is by using money that is only meant to be used on movie sets. With those, just read the bill and look for phrases that show it is supposed to be used only for films.

For photos and tips for identifying fakes, visit the US Federal Reserve’s webpage about it.

You can also keep reading below for more tips.


If you suspect that a bill is counterfeit, do not put yourself into danger. If possible, do not give the counterfeit bill back to the person who passed it on. Use another excuse to have them wait until police show up.

Observe what the suspect looks like, along with any people who they are with. Write down their vehicle license plate numbers if possible.

Call your local police department. You can also call your local US Secret Service Office afterwards. Our closest financial Secret Service office is in Baltimore, MD, at 443-263-1000 or in Washington DC at 202-406-8000.


Some tips for spotting a fake bill:

Hold the bill up to the light. You should see a thin vertical strip that has text spelling out the bill’s denomination.

While you are holding to the bill to the light, also check for a holograph that should match the face image on the bill. If a bill has been bleached and printed to look like a more valuable bill, it might show Abraham Lincoln’s face instead of Ben Franklin’s.

Keep the bill up the light and check for a watermark in the unprinted space to the right of the portrait. This is embedded in the paper and should be able to be seen from both sides.

A security thread should also be seen when the bill is under a light. This thin, embedded strip runs from top to bottom. In the $10 and $50 notes, the strip is to the right of the portrait. In the $5, $20, and $100, the strip should be to the left.

The security threads also have microprinting on them. You should be able to read “USA FIVE” on $5, “USA TEN” on $10, “USA TWENTY: on $20, “USA 50” on $50, and “USA 100” on $100.

Most new series bills (except for $5) have color-shifting ink. Tilt the note back and forth. The number in the lower right-hand corner should shift from green to black and back again.

If bills are placed under ultraviolet lights, they should glow. The $5 will glow blue, $10 glows orange, $20 glows green, $50 glows yellow, and $100 glows red.

All bills should have very fine lines printed on them, especially behind the portrait and on the reverse side, making them harder to copy.

You can always double check by comparing the suspected bill with the feel and texture of a US note that you know is not counterfeit.


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