Saturday, April 03, 1999

Phony cash could be costly for teens

7 students charged in counterfeiting

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        TRENTON — It started innocently, with a teen boasting about his computer's ability to print “money” — and escalated into alleged crimes that ensnared seven Edgewood City Schools students, Butler County Sheriff's deputies said.

        “I don't think they realized the seriousness of what they were getting into,” Detective Tom Gibson said Friday. “After we talked to the (17-year-old boy) who actually made the bills on his computer, it ended up there were like seven kids involved.”

        Six of the students, ages 13 to 17, face delinquency counts of criminal simulation in the county Juvenile Court next week; a seventh student, 18-year-old Robert Shane West, is expected to be charged in Hamilton Municipal Court on a misdemeanor criminal simulation charge.

        The students are accused of possessing or passing bogus bills last week at the high school and middle school.

        The phony currency came to light while a clerk counting money in the middle school lunch room found a fake $20 bill; other fake $1 and $20 bills apparently slid by undetected until they reached a bank, Detective Gibson said.

        Police believe they have confiscated all of the counterfeit cash. The bills were generated by scanning authentic currency into a computer. “The ones we got, to the eye, look pretty good,” Detective Gibson said. “If you were busy and not paying attention, they could get past you.” He noted the texture of the paper is markedly different from that of bona fide currency.

        Although making fakes is easier because computer technology has become more advanced and more reasonably priced, the government has responded by producing $20 and $50 bills carrying hard-to-duplicate, anti-counterfeiting features. And even believable fakes won't stand up to scrutiny if money-handlers know what to look for, police said.

        Hamilton police, who arrested two 19-year-olds in another counterfeiting case Tuesday, point out that special ink pens that reveal forgeries are available at office supply stores for about $3.

        Genuine currency is printed on paper that causes the ink to appear brown; on any other paper, the ink appears black.


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