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Counterfeiting is on the rise. Would you recognize a phony dollar bill if it was mixed in with your money. Plus some of the most popular stores in the country are coming to a new outlet mall opening tomorrow in Hagerstown. This. Is. NEWSNIGHT. And. Good evening everyone I'm Jeff Salk and I'm Bob Ball page. Growing concern tonight on Maryland's Eastern Shore after fish with the stereotype lesions turned up in the lower white conical river. Joining us by phone now from the Eastern Shore is natural resources secretary John Griffin. Secretary Griffin the fish were I guess netted over a period of two days Tuesday and Wednesday were more caught today that had lesions. Yes the pattern of today here is that of Tuesday and Wednesday which is to say we've we've noted and sampled many many fish the only ones that have a problem are man hating which of course seem to
be the. The diet of choice of Styria and the numbers are fairly low thankfully at this point. Of all the we've observed only about 20 percent of them have. What appear to be fresh sores or lesions on them. So this is at a low level. We had some confirmatory lab analysis come in the saffron and from Dr. John Burke Holder's lab in North Carolina we had taken three History of water samples yesterday and shipped them down overnight to her and we received the results. Afternoon two of the samples were negative one presumptively showed a low count of possible serious cells but now we have to decide whether to spend the time and money to have her go through the additional levels of analysis to confirm that. But in any case the level that she's shown in her plenary analysis is not
of a level that would raise significant concerns about public health. So for the time being at least than that area the water is not going to be closed off is that correct. No but we're monitoring it very active. Really we've had crews there as well as marine police officers all day yesterday all day today. We'll be back tomorrow so we want to give it a very thorough checking for the next several days and and act accordingly so if the numbers come up significantly we may have to consider with Governor Glendening doing a closure if not. We won't. But clearly as the governor's been saying all year we're getting the the season when all the conditions are coming together that would promote hysteria outbreaks I guess the only one that we've been seeing much of here recently however are
storm events which create a lot of runoff from from land into the waterways. One quick final question you're Because now we're starting to see some fish kills in North Carolina. Yes. Does this look to you like a beginning of a reappearance in Maryland. Yes Bob that's certainly likely as we've been saying all year but not certain. I mean we may get lucky but the exterior. It seems to be from 10 years in North Carolina and elsewhere I want to start to have these outbreaks. They tend to stay with us for a while. Unless you drastically different changes and weather and environmental conditions which of course probably want to occur here for the immediate future secretary John Griffin thank you for joining us tour of their career. Well you might want to check your wallet in a few minutes it's possible that one or more of the bills you're carrying is just about as valuable as Monopoly money counterfeiting is up dramatically in the U.S. Secret Service is blaming computers the same technology that
lets you produce a professional looking newsletter with photos in the comfort of your home can also be used to produce fake currency. We'll talk with banking and law enforcement experts but first NEWSNIGHT senior correspondent John all the Shawn gives us a look at this new threat. In tonight's Maryland money. Hot off the press a few dollars for gas maybe or the week's groceries. Very easy to do and the color here looks pretty good in and the feel is pretty good also. But don't try to spend it. It did not come from the U.S. Treasury. Huge printing presses in Washington. But from this little inkjet printer and this computer system seized in an arrest this summer you could buy the whole outfit for a thousand dollars or so but it is the state of the art in counterfeiting these days. Very easy you have it in your house you can scan a note in. You can more or less print these counterfeit notes on demand. Use them and then when you need some more print a few more notes if that is you're willing to risk
15 years in jail and a $250000 fine. But apparently a lot of people are the number of counterfeit bills seized in Maryland is up from three hundred twenty two three years ago to almost 15000 in the past year. Retailers like Mars supermarkets are all too aware of the problem. Ten years ago we were probably handle maybe two cases a year. Now it's not uncommon to handle two or three cases a week because following computer prices and the rocket like advances in technical capabilities to put counterfeiting within anyone's reach. It used to take real expertise in photography plate making and fretting an art form. This is a local printing plant with expensive big and heavy offset presses. But it did not take something like that to make this stack of fake 50 is circulated in Maryland last month. Just a regular home computer.
Who gets hurt. Well they're often passed at fast food outlets in the lunch rush when cashiers are busy or at convenient stores. The Secret Service says a significant number of these P.A. the phony computer generated bills also were passed at bars. It might be dark inside crowded the waiters waitresses or bartenders might have very little opportunity to examine the bill carefully and closely under good light. And that's what it takes. Bar's security chief Al Bantam says training their cash handlers is crucial to look for something that just doesn't look and feel right if it doesn't look right if it doesn't feel right then look at it closely. My favorite technique is look for the red and blue fibers. If you look for those if you find them ninety nine point nine percent chance it's going to be a good bill. Some retailers use pens like this for testing large bills on real currency it leaves a yellow brown mark but starch in normal paper will
produce a very dark mark. The Secret Service does not consider such tests completely reliable even average consumers agents say and look for security features built into genuine currency usually missing from fakes. Example on the new fifties and hundreds look for the watermark that something is very hard to replicate in with the Peano it's and just a quick lift not up to a light source Take a look at the No. Look for the the portrait of Benjamin Franklin in the portrait of Ulysses S. Grant in the in the bill itself and that would be a good determiner current 20s have a security threat visible the same way that says USA 20 and redesigned $20 bills are due out in the fall. But well done fakes don't get scrutiny and even banks sometimes pass them back to businesses. In this one it would be a little less passable. Looks pretty muddy. Yeah yeah as you can tell it's it's a poor quality. That's what we call a deceptive know and this would be a poor quality.
You know supermarket chains run on a slim profit margin so accepting a fake bill hurts but security chief Bantam says the impact is even more severe on much smaller firms. When a small business takes 50 or 100 dollars in counterfeit bills that can very well be their profit margin for the better part of the week. And these days the counterfeiters are making more than phony money payroll checks or the latest scam though acquire a a legitimate check from a very legitimate company that's well known in the area. They'll apply the same techniques that they do with the bills. They'll scan them into the system make whatever alterations they need to make fake payroll checks or even harder to detect than the bogus bills. But it's the fake bills that seem to be everywhere these days. It's something like this can be passed very easily in a bar especially put it facedown in Baltimore I'm John off the shot NEWSNIGHT Marilyn's. And joining us tonight in studio are Jim McEntee from the Federal Reserve Bank in Baltimore
Richard sent with the Secret Service and Thompson from the Maryland Retailers Association and we're also opening the phone lines tonight the numbers will be at the bottom of the screen. Is it computers is that what's driving this thing. It's the change of technology the technology. Ten years ago would not have brought us this problem. But with the increase in the availability and the drop in prices allowed individuals to purchase this type of equipment my computer at home is maybe three years old its color printer it can't do quality even close to what you see on a bill that hasn't changed over the last couple of years or do I just have a bad printer. Well you may have not I don't know I mean I better clarify that I have a job right. Well what we see what we've seen is. Within the last year to profit in the last two years the quality of laserjet criticism has improved and we've seen that in the marketplace and that has stimulated this growth in this computer generated count of it.
Jim how much of this stuff are you seeing. We actually see very very little counterfeits coming in through the Federal Reserve Bank. In reality it's less than one note out of every hundred thousand. Most of the notes are caught by the Secret Service or turned in by financial institutions prior to them being deposited with us. Has that rate changed. Lately it's been pretty stable over the last two years it has increased so slight bit from 95 96. Tom what about your members. Well it's very similar to Jim situation. It's not near the problem for retailers as I mentioned on introduction here as our bad checks or. Credit card fraud but it is starting to increase. It's on our radar screen if you will. We estimate it's probably picked up about 15 percent last year so I want to talk about who gets who gets stuck when one of these is passed but Jimmy brought with you one of the new $20 bills and I think we have it we have a picture of one we can follow up on the screen. This this is being changed much the same ways that the hundred and fifty were changed.
Yes. Basically it's going to have the it's going to have the same security features that the 50 100 will have in are. Now it feels thinner isn't just because it's a it's a new bill. Right. OK it hasn't been in circulation in terms of the the security elements of this that people can see. What would you call their attention to call their attention to the watermark on the right hand side when you hold it up to a light. And I don't have the same portrait as the main portrait here but you have to hold it up to a light when it's laying flat you will not see that watermark. So if you see a yellow stain which some of the people who are trying to counterfeit the new fifties and hundreds. When they're laying flat you can see a yellow stain like a mustard looking stain on air so that's one way to detect that. What about the pants I want to get to a phone call in a second but what about the pens that were referenced in John's story as they said in John's story. They're not 100 percent reliable we get a lot of false positive counterfeit
readings for counterfeits good notes to come they're showing up as counterfeits we had a customer come in last week to the bank and presented a $100 bill to one of where she was paying a bill they marked it it showed it was a counterfeit when she came and we verified it was legitimate. So you do get false positives and let's go to the phones Wesley from Montgomery County thanks for calling much question. Yeah I just thought you guys have the actual point of credit. How do counterfeiters get around that. OK good question what about paper. The paper is special paper it's only used for our currency. The problem and that's probably the easiest way to detect a counterfeit is the quality of the paper that it's printed on. So usually we have very sophisticated equipment that helps us identify a potential counterfeit but bottom line an individual makes that decision. They're doing it initially the feel will be able to do that plus training that we received from Secret Service. What about those little fibers. They're red and blue. Little tiny lines you can see
there. Those are in the paper. Those are actually in the paper. And sometimes people will try to get around that by taking a blue pen or red pen and marking the note. But it's very legible that it is not a fiber in there. Tom in the situation that Jim just mentioned where were a merchant received this bill had a question about it and gave it back you really risk. Offending your customers if you pursue this too aggressively there is a potential liability problem situation. Jim just mentioned Colby a classic example and it doesn't do a lot for customer relations but yet if the retailer takes it and it turns out to be counterfeit the retailer is a loser in that situation who didn't you know who was on the hook say and I got some money out of the bank machine and one of them was rejected by a merchant someplace. What do I do. Well that in that particular example the merchant know if you're a long term customer but so the
merchant would contact us and we would ask you where you got got the money from and try to trace back to the origination of that money. Ultimately you would be the loser in a case for that $20 bill if it was if it was negotiated past the merchant as a call to saying that the merchant will be the victim in that case. So as AP showed it is the small retailers or small stores are actually the individual that will become the ultimate victim. OK I always used to be there. The story that counterfeiting was a much bigger problem outside the US in US currency. But but they had some huge percentage of the bills that were circulating in Europe that were counterfeit. Majority of the offset type of conifer currency still is still coming from outside the country. We've seen a rise where 42 to 43 percent of counterfeit domestically passed is computer generated. Now do you expect that that trend to continue. Unfortunately yes. And the steps that
we see in here with the FRB in the in the in the new currency is coming up new designs will stop that but we still have some of the all the bills stored circulation will be targeted. Think it will get to a point where the older the bills have to be recalled or traded in for a new currency. You know we it's happened in other count it has but I don't think we're at that point. We have an intelligent. A populace public education effort such as this will help us deter the counterfeiters. Let's go back to the gym. Also we will never in the United States has never recalled any currency or devalued any currency yet it's always out there as long as it's in circulation it's worth its full face value. There are additional security features again that have been incorporated that can't be replicated through the use of the PC. The color shifting ink in the lower right hand corner of the face on a $20 bill and a 50 100 as well when you look at it straight on it looks appears green when you turn it to any angle it shifts to a black color. You can't replicate that. And they're so so that'll take that counterfeiting from from the realm of somebodies den to
back in the days where you needed some sophisticated equipment that's right. Yeah. Let's go back to the phones Ivan from Baltimore City thanks for the call what's your question. Yeah. Oh I did know I wouldn't call company got it you can't get paid and that is the type of watermark that you have a company. OK thanks for the call I mean I've seen on on just my personal check should I have that micro print line What can small companies do. I'm not all that familiar with the checks. Maybe Tom I mean in terms of protecting a small business from not for me the counterfeit money or counterfeit checks whether for a retailer or there are certain things you look for in a checkout one is the number the check if it's a low number check one through 10 it's very very suspicious your suspicions or Magli go up. There so things like on the on the account number out is on the check but just we mention how more sophisticated got with the computer so we have with checks and as an Internet action you saw that payroll checks and has been a big big problem for retailers
because their past stores retain a high volume of checks and there's just so many checks going through it's really tough for the person taking that check to clerk at a cashier to really be able to tell a false payroll check from real Once a real difficult problem now we have another question from a viewer Bob in Alexandria. Thanks for calling what's your question. Yes. A little while back the NOVA program called the buck stops here. Featured many items you were discussing there but what I was curious about was that a government or government throughout the United States had acquired the exact same printing presses that the Treasury Department uses to generate counterfeit notes now with the security. You know the watermark in the threads in the micro printing. Is this just going to up the ante or is it Willie's effort Willy's measures. Definitely put a stop to. The overseas activity.
Thanks for the call. What do you think that's going to have to be secret service answering that when the joint effort we've had in the last 15 years to change the currency was in fact to stop by sophisticated counterfeiting operations. Efforts along with the folks in the US Army has been successful in a lot of these areas. We've we've had in the past and World War Two for instance where. The Nazis attempted to con if it was currency and they failed. And that's a that's a that's basically a technique of war you're trying to destabilize and start to believe your opponent. That's correct. Our currency is well produced and well regulated in terms of the security features attempts to counterfeit even the best attempts or the best kind of fit that I've seen still fall so far. Let's get in one quick call Alan from my gummi County Go ahead.
Hi. I'm really worried about even writing checks and given to anybody anymore because for $19 you can buy software that can print the check print your name on it print the bank routing number on it and it'll clear your account. And banks no longer check signatures. OK. How do you guard yourself against that. Good question thank you. Well that's what you think about how close I think what Al is talking about is a crime which we're now referring to is identity fraud where someone literally still is right then of the produces checks in your name and just recently the attorney general occurred in Maryland. A. Possible major case that of course and this is a serious problem it's also probably think that the Congress is dealing with I think or state legislature. Well you know there's there's we got to run. I got to cut you there because we're out of time but I want to thank all three of yours for joining us tonight thank you. Quickly to tonight's Maryland visits the Baltimore company that's the world's largest developer of outlet malls has opened a new one in Hagerstown. We spoke with a marketing manager there.
What we have here is a village filled with brand names that everybody's going to recognize only there at discount prices he's a manufacturer outlet centers. They represent the finest names in retail. They are good stores they're attractive stores and what we did is we built it in a village concept it's very inviting it looks like a small town village. We've got beautiful landscaping. We've got areas to sit down and rest. We also have an enclosed food court. We have our own little mini city here that's just a nice place to come and spend the day. There's an awful lot of research that goes into determining a sight especially for an outlet center they differ from retail centers in that our market is greater. We can draw from a hundred mile radius. So drawing from a hundred mile radius we get to pick up the Baltimore in the Washington D.C. area. So realistically speaking we're drawing from a pool of maybe 10 million people including the visitors that come to this area. So that makes it extremely attractive to us. Another one of our criteria is that it be
near and accessible to major highways which of course we are right on Interstate 70. We near Interstate 81 were right on 65 which is a major route so there's a tremendous amount of traffic that passes this area which makes it also very appealing for a developer to build a center. And they have a huge sign on I-70 that nobody's going to miss prime retail expects three million visitors and revenues of at least 40 million dollars in its first year. There are plans to add 20 additional stores in October. Coming up next on NEWSNIGHT Maryland will meet the person behind the cars for Careers program. A unique idea that's helping Marylanders get their jobs in gear. Hi I'm John Shields. Come along for an edible adventure during my Chesapeake Bay cooking marathon live from an eating Sunday at 5:00. Don't miss it. Congratulations when you. And Camilla come. For your recent awards from the 1980s. The National Association
of Black Journalists. News like their. Top issues. Bottom walk and excellence in reporting.
Providing cars for Marylanders getting off welfare and heading to work is the aim of cars for Careers program in Howard County. Tonight's newsmaker Martin Schwartz turned that idea into reality. You know that's always one of the great challenges for anyone who's entering a work situation and that is how to get to the job how did the idea for cars for careers come about. Well that's exactly what happened with cars for careers is that a study was done in Howard County to try to determine the factors that kept the people who are at the lower income level at that level and it turned out that one of the top factors was the fact that they couldn't get to a job they couldn't get their kids to school they couldn't get around so the program was designed by Howard County government and Gemini Neil Gaffney with Senator Madden involved and putting it together wherever cars come from. We had cars actually from all over the state which is kind of wonderful We had a nice article in the newspaper not too long ago and we had a tremendous response. The majority of them do come from Howard County. They do come from individuals.
And it's kind of a personal thing somebody sees their car and they take care of it for 10 years or so and and they like the idea that it can go and help someone else. What about cars that don't run. We do take cars that don't run where we're very fortunate that we work with the Lincoln tech institute in Columbia that does all our work for just the cost of the parts. So very often a car that that may cost and Norden an ordinary person fifteen hundred two thousand dollars to fix we can get fixed for considerably less. You have to get me their card. So so who pays though even that fee to get them road ready. We we pay the fee for the parts now we do actually sell our vehicles to over Sippy ance at a fee that is based on what they can afford to pay. The nice thing about our program is doing then we not only provide them with a vehicle but we also secure the loan for them. And these people typically couldn't get a loan right. So now they have a vehicle to go to to work to get their kids to school and they've
tain some credit. Who qualifies for a car. The program has been established so that it's a low or moderate income individual. They must live in Howard County or work in Howard County and they need to be there in a job or in a job program so it is based on the fact that we're helping people who are trying to help themselves. How many have you given away not given away but sold. We've today we've sold six vehicles and for the most part that's been in the last three months. The program's been around for a year but for a long time it was getting the logistics set up and the paperwork and that type of thing. Well thanks for joining us Mark thank you very much. That's all for tonight's edition of NEWSNIGHT. Marilyn be sure to join us tomorrow. We're going to find out why critics are calling the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore one of the most fantastic museums anywhere in America. For all of us here at NEWSNIGHT Maryland thanks for watching.
Good night. And.
Newsnight Maryland
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NewsNight Maryland Show #289 Counterfeit Money
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Producing Organization: Maryland Public Television
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Chicago: “Newsnight Maryland; 289,” 1998-08-06, Maryland Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 27, 2022,
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APA: Newsnight Maryland; 289. Boston, MA: Maryland Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from