Thu, Jul 15, 2004 - Page 6 News List

US Treasury goes to the casinos to warn of forgeries


Counterfeiters will bleach out US$1 bills and try to print 20s on them. They glue party glitter on bills, which are run off on an inkjet printer, to give the numerals that new metallic look. They cut bills up and try to combine them into higher denominations, and hand the suckers 20s with George Washington's face on them.

They also like cities with big casinos, which means Atlantic City and Las Vegas, where they hope no one will notice that they bought a stack of chips with a few thousand in lunch paper, as the bogus bills are sometimes known, and then cashed the chips out for real currency.

That is why the Treasury Department came to a big Atlantic City casino on Tuesday to give its first public lesson about its new US$50 bill, which is scheduled to be circulated in September.

"Casinos are big cash bus-inesses, and they handle the larger denominations that counterfeiters work in," said Thomas Ferguson, director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

So Ferguson and teams from the Secret Service and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia went to the Borgata casino, which alone handles US$6 billion in cash a year, telling chief cashiers and counters about the new bill. It still has Ulysses S. Grant gazing out with the poker face he might have shown Robert E. Lee at Appomattox, but the portrait is bigger than that on the bill introduced in 1996. It has color-shifting ink on the number "50" in the lower right-hand corner of the front side, a watermark duplicating Grant's face and "The United States of America" printed in scanner-defying letters along the edge of Grant's collar.

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