MANHEIM TOWNSHIP, LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. -- Police in Lancaster County say they’re starting to see a spike in counterfeit money. In some cases, thousands of dollars in fake bills being used to purchase items at local businesses.
Officials say the problem with counterfeit bills has grown in the last year, not only Lancaster County, but all across Central Pennsylvania.
“There’s been slowly this tick up and then in the past few months it’s exploded," said Sgt. Michael Piacentino, Manheim Township Police Department.
Sergeant Piacentino says they’re dealing with counterfeit money issues regularly.
"In the Harrisburg area, Philadelphia area, and here it’s just constant almost like every week we’re getting something," added Piacentino.
This year alone Manheim Township has had about a dozen different cases, with busy stores being the main target.
“There’s a lot of people in line, they come in, they pass the bill real quick and then they get out and it’s on to the next customer and the clerk can easily be confused or not catch the feel of the paper," said Piacentino.
Employees at Park City Diner in Lancaster County say they fell victim to counterfeit bills this summer.
“It was really really close to the real thing it was just you couldn’t see the line when you hold it up everything else on it was like completely legit, even the cop said this is some of the realest fake money I’ve seen," said Lyndsay Gall, manager. "They’re putting businesses at risk and people it could be somebody’s last twenty that they have to go grocery shopping with and it ends up being fake," she added.
"Real money is not paper, it’s actually fiber and you can feel it in your hand, you can smell it and there’s certain security features when you hold it up to a light that would be in real bill that’s made by the federal government that’s not when you print it on a piece of a paper no matter how good it looks," said Piacentino.
That's why police say they are cracking down.
“We are trying to develop suspects and any kind of connection or networking that these people are doing to ultimately solve this problem," added Piacentino.
Maheim Township Police say they are working with other police departments, along with the secret service to get down to the bottom of where the counterfeit bills are coming from.
Counterfeiters can face a penalty up to ten years in prison with up to $25,000 in fines in the state of Pennsylvania.