Jackson County

It’s one thing to pass fake money, but in court?

Jackson County law enforcement officials are warning the public that they are seeing an increase in counterfeit bills. A Latimer man tried to use a fake $20 to pay an outstanding traffic ticket with one -- knowing it was fake.
Jackson County law enforcement officials are warning the public that they are seeing an increase in counterfeit bills. A Latimer man tried to use a fake $20 to pay an outstanding traffic ticket with one -- knowing it was fake. klnelson@sunherald.com

John David McDaniel is accused of trying to pay his court fine with a counterfeit $20 last week.

A representative of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department called it “bold” and said this one might belong in some kind of hall of fame.

Officials said when deputies arrested McDaniel, he told them he knew the bill was counterfeit when he took it to Justice Court to pay outstanding traffic tickets.

McDaniel, a Latimer resident, tried to pay the fine at the West Jackson County Justice Court office off North Washington Avenue.

“He walked in there and handed them a counterfeit $20,” said Lt. Jeff Smith, who is overseeing the investigation. “He said he just wanted to get rid of it.”

McDaniel, 61, was arrested on the spot, and later released with an upcoming court date.

Justice Court clerks check for counterfeits all the way down to $5 bills.

“We mark all of our $20s (to check for fake bills),” a court official told the Sun Herald. “We’ve had (bogus) $5 bills come through.”

The case is unusual, but Smith said counterfeiting in general has become a concern in Jackson County. Businesses in the St. Martin area have had a problem for a number of months.

“We are actively investigating the manufacture of currency,” he said.

He said one technique is to wash a regular bill with chemicals to get the markings off and use a laser printer to create a larger bill.

Smith said those passing bills will target any business, but particularly mom-and-pop businesses that may not check as thoroughly.

He said the business owner loses money when trying to deposit the fake bills at the bank or after calling police regarding the counterfeits.

Smith asks customers to be patient with stores checking bills.

According to the Sheriff Department, officers are seeing reports of counterfeit money almost daily from both businesses and individuals.

Deputies arrested two Vancleave men in June with parchment paper, a printer and printed fake money.

The Sheriff’s Department warns: “Be alert and cautious of money you accept.”

How to spot a fake

A few tips from Jackson County Sheriff’s Office on how to spot a counterfeit bill:

Texture: The bills are usually flimsy, especially if they are regular paper, washed to make it look more like a real bill.

Watermarks: Hold the bill up to the light and look for watermarks. If there aren't any, it's a fake.

Colorful stamps: Stamps like the shiny gold 20 or the shiny green eagle won't be as good a quality.

Comparison: Use a real bill as a comparison when looking at texture, watermarks and stamps.

Get a special pen: You can get these from a bank, but the pen will identify a real or a fake bill by the mark it makes. The bank or law enforcement can tell you how to use it.

    Jackson County Sheriff’s Office

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