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Most of us would welcome the opportunity to become more intimately acquainted with large denomination currency-such as $50 and $100 bills. And this Wednesday morning at the Lake Theatre, retailers and the general public will get that chance.

Maybe it’s not quite the way we’d prefer to get up close and personal with Benjamins, but starting at 8 a.m., May 30, U.S. Secret Service agents will give a presentation on the details and nuances of “funny money.”

Officials from Downtown Oak Park and the Oak Park police asked the Secret Service for the presentation after five bogus $100 bills were passed or attempted at downtown businesses two weeks ago.

The phony bills were manufactured by stripping or bleaching the ink from either $5 or $20 bills, then overprinting art from scanned $100 bills using a laser printer.

River Forest police say they dealt with at least one counterfeit bill earlier this year.

Police say fake bills manufactured in that fashion are relatively easy to spot although, as with most everything else, you have to know what to look for.

In the case of bleached bills, the holographic image of whatever president is on the lower denomination bill will still be apparent alongside the overprinted image if you hold the bill up to the light.

Retailers who use only chemical pens to check for authentic currency paper are not going to spot the “Bleach5” overprint ruse because it uses the real paper.

Those tricks are only two of many that business people and individuals can use to guard against getting stuck with worthless currency. The 45-minute presentation Wednesday will cover such topics as the paper used to print currency, watermarks, the use of “color shifting” inks, the different colored security threads in each denomination, and the placement of portraiture on bills.

The Secret Service gave a similar presentation to DTOP business owners last November after a raft of fake $100s had been passed in Chicago.


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