A Counterfeit Conundrum
  • Maggie Franklin
  • September 18, 2013
Ever have someone give you a bad bill?
 
To the best of my knowledge, it’s only happened to me once. I was in the drive-thru at the bank, making my deposit when the teller looked up and said, “Maggie...do you know where you got this bill?” as she held up a $10 bill.
 
I went inside the bank, filled out some paperwork and lost 10 bucks.
 
End of story. I have no idea who gave me the phony money. I didn’t notice anything particularly off about it when I got it — obviously.
 
But the journey of a counterfeit bill is kinda like playing musical chairs — whoever gets caught holding it when the music stops is the one who loses. Which doesn’t do much to promote integrity and lawfulness in anyone who finds themselves suspiciously fondling a bill that doesn’t quite feelright.
 
For starters, some fakes are pretty convincing. Ever since the $10 loss incident, I have taken to making sure to run my thumbnail across the president’s lapel and looking for the watermarked double portrait. But I can’t police every bill that comes through my hands. Unless it seems obviously off, I’ll accept it.
 
I don’t want to be one of those businesses that won’t accept the legal tender of the country I do business in. I believe that as long as cash is the legal currency of the land, I should accept it.
 
Last week I found myself pulling a twenty out of my wallet for something I bought at the county fair. As I pulled it out, I thought the paper didn’t quite feel like I expected it to — which happens every so often when someone runs a bill through the washing machine or something. I held it up to the dim ambient light. It looked right. The girl took it, little felt-tip pen test and all, and the world went on spinning.
 
I can’t help but feel guilty that I went ahead and gave her a bill that I was suspicious of (and I’m sure the Federal agency responsible for this sort of thing will come knocking at my door any moment now), but at the same time, I feel like the merchant made a reasonable attempt to determine the bill’s authenticity.
 
So, has it ever happened to you? Do you check every bill that you’re handed? Do you use one of those little markers? Or do you have one of those UV devices? Or do you just not take cash?
 

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