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Better Watch That $20 Bill

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Detective Sgt. Norman Olmstead With Altered Bills

Better Watch That $20 Bill

BY WILLIAM B. TREML News Police Reporter

"Poor man's counterfeiting” is booming in Ann Arbor. •

The confidence game involved making $1 bills look like twenties, Police Chief Walter E. Krasny says.

The chief says the “paste-up" fraud is bilking local persons out of money almost daily.

Detective Sgt. Norman Olmstead, now investigating the operation, says as many as a half-dozen doctored $1 bills are making their appearance each week. He says while banks are reporting an increasing number of the bills there are few business places which have not been victimized by the bogus bills.

“It’s a very simple manner of counterfeiting.” Sgt. Olmstead points out. "All that is needed is a scissors and some transparent tape.”

The investigator says the bill-changing action involves the snipping off of one end from two $20 bills. The two separate ends, both bearing the “20” figures, are then taped to the ends of a $1 bill. Except for the appearance of George Washington's face on the bill at a quick glance the altered bill appears to be a twenty, Sgt. Olmstead says.

Passing the altered $1 bill is not difficult, Sgt. Olmstead notes. Harried cashiers and check-out clerks in stores, faced with lines of waiting customers, rarely take the time to carefully examine each bill given them. The thief, aware of this, makes a small purchase with the pasted-up $1 bill, then walks off with the merchandise and $19 in change, Olm-slead says.

"Tellers in local banks are finding more and more of these bills turned in by business firms whose cashiers have not noticed them when counting up for the day,” Olmstead says. “The tellers usually detect the bills immediately because they watch for the face on the bill rather than the numbers.”

While most of the bad bills are being passed in Ann Arbor business places there have been several instances in which individuals have ended up with the

bogus money, Sgt. Olmstead says. He says in those incidents the victim is stopped on the street or in a store by a stranger who makes an excuse for needing the immediate change of a $20 bill. Before the victim realizes the fraud the thief is gone, the sergeant says.

After passing off the changed bill the thief later returns the mutilated $20 bills to a bank or other financial institution and obtains new bills, relating to a teller that he obtained them when he made a purchase at a store, the detective says. The $20 bills are used in the operation to make certain the cut bills can be exchanged for new ones. A bill with both ends cut off would be difficult to exchange, police note.

Sgt. Olmstead said that the Police

Department last August made an arrest in this operation but it has been difficult to locate and identify the passers of the bills. Some of the bills have been palmed off on cab drivers by patrons who appear in a hurry and demand immediate change, he said.

The operation is a violation of the federal counterfeiting law and local violators are turned over to U.S. Treasury Department agents, Sgt. Olmstead says. While there have been infrequent instances of currency mutilation locally the present flood of pasted-up twenties is unprecedented. Chief Krasny noted.

He urged local residents to be on the lookout for the altered $1 bills and to contact his department at 769-6311 if a bill of this type is received.