By Ron Marasco
Des Moines police are investigating a surge in counterfeit money over the last couple weeks in the metro.
Officers are investigating about a dozen cases where fake bills were passed off to local businesses. Most are convenience stores and fast food restaurants.
Many clerks accept counterfeit bills, only later to find out they were fake.
"Sometimes (the fake bills are found) when they're counting up, when the store itself is counting up their own cash drawers, sometimes at night when the shift ends or sometimes the next day when they're counting up their deposits before they go make their own," said Sgt. Jason Halifax.
Police tell us with copiers and printers getting better, the bills are becoming harder to spot.
They also say some of the bills are whitewashed, so the same paper is used...just a different dollar amount is printed. When help up to light the old watermark can clearly be spotted.
"Those actually will even test positive, or test OK with a pen," said Halifax. "You know there's a pen that people can use. "It's just a screening tool, but if it's a repurposed actual bill, that'll test good."
Police say they usually see about five or six cases a month, so to see nearly a dozen over ten days is highly unusual.
"To our knowledge at this point, we don't know that we have any huge counterfeiting rings locally," said Halifax.
Police say they don't have any suspects at this time, and they don't know if the crimes are related. They're waiting for surveillance video hoping that will provide some answers.
Counterfeiting is also a federal crime. Once Des Moines police are done investigating, they'll turn the fake bills over to the Secret Service.