Some of the most common scams involve counterfeit currency, mail fraud, and lottery fraud. Here are some tips to limit your chances of being a victim.
Counterfeiting is a serious national crime that has the potential to harm or destroy a business of any size. Thanks to today's technical advances, computers, copiers and printers can produce counterfeit money that's hard to distinguish from the real thing. Even with these advances, you can learn how to better protect yourself and your business from the dangers of counterfeit money.
How to Detect Counterfeit Currency
The best way to detect counterfeit money is to know the facts about genuine US Currency.
Check Letter (Quadrant Number) The small check number letter appears in the upper left and lower right corner. These letters indicate the position of that note printed on a full sheet. The Quadrant Number appears in the upper left corner only and should not be confused with the Face Place Number. If the Check Letters are missing, assume that the bill is counterfeit.
District Numbers (Federal Reserve Note) There are 12 Federal Reserve Districts, and each district has a number and a letter symbol. If the district number and the letter symbol in the seal do not correspond presume the bill is a counterfeit. Become familiar with the following district numbers and letter symbols:
- Boston - A
- New York - B
- Philadelphia - C
- Cleveland - D
- Richmond - E
- Atlanta - F
- Chicago - G
- St. Louis - H
- Minneapolis - I
- Kansas City - J
- Dallas - K
- San Francisco - L
Paper: One of the most important identifying features of genuine currency is the paper. It contains tiny red and blue fibers embedded on and between its main mass. Counterfeiters often attempt to simulate these tiny fibers by imprinting red and blue lines on their bogus bills. On a genuine bill these fibers can be pulled off and out of the paper. You can try this by using the head of a pin.
Federal Reserve Seal and Letter: The large capital letter which appears inside the Federal Reserve Seal, and as a prefix letter for serial numbers, represents a letter symbol for one of the twelve Federal Reserve Districts. The seal's letter symbol and serial numbers prefix letter must correspond, if not, assume the bill is a counterfeit.
Portrait and Oval Background: The portrait of a genuine bill is rendered in sharp and clear lines. The oval background contains sharp vertical and horizontal lines, forming small white squares. On a counterfeit bill the portrait's lines often appear running together, and the background's crossing lines, forming squares, are often filled in.
Type of Note: Federal Reserve Notes now being printed in $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 denominations, represent the main US paper currency. The $100 bill is now the highest denomination being printed. Silver certificates in $1, $5, and $10 denominations are discontinued.
Treasury Seal: The Treasury Seal is green on Federal Reserve Notes and red on US Notes. Become especially familiar with the color of the Treasury Seal and Serial Numbers, as they are often printed off-colors on counterfeit bills. Make a special effort to note the seal's saw teeth points on suspected bills. On counterfeit bills, they appear uneven, blunt, and the tips are broken off.
Serial Numbers: The serial numbers appear in the upper left and lower right portion of the bill and are green on the Federal Reserve Notes and Red on the US Notes. All serial numbers have eight numerals. Make certain the serial numbers prefix letters and the Federal Reserve letter correspond. If the serial numbers are printed in off colors or appear ragged or uneven, assume the bill is counterfeit.
Mail Fraud is a scheme to get money or anything of value from you by offering a product, service, or investment opportunity that does not live up to its claims. Prosecutors must prove the claims were intentionally misrepresented and that the mail was used to carry out the scheme.
The Postal Inspection Service investigates violations of the mail fraud law. Consumer complaints are the primary basis for investigation by Postal Inspectors.
Be an informed consumer when you shop by mail. You can save time and money when you shop by mail. Most mail-order companies are honest and stand by their product and services. Unfortunately there are a few rotten apples who give direct mail advertisers a bad name. They cheat people by peddling worthless products, medical quackery, and get-rich-quick schemes. Some fly-by-nights take your money and send you nothing.
Mail fraud artists frequently rely on the same old tricks; you may even be familiar with some of them.
- Lottery Fraud
- Medical Fraud
- Phony Job Opportunities
- Telemarketing Fraud
- Unsolicited Merchandise
- Work at Home Schemes
- Charity Fraud
- Vacation Getaway
Federal Law makes it a crime to mail letters or circulars containing lottery material including tickets or forms claiming to represent tickets, chances, shares, or interests in lotteries. Exception: State-owned and operated lotteries may mail to addresses within their own states when authorized by state law.
The three elements making a lottery illegal are:
- A payment is required (cash or money order).
- A prize is offered (money or something of value).
- A return on investment depends on chance (all recipients will participate).
Be wary if you receive what appears to be lottery material from a foreign country, from another state, or from your own state that does not have an authorized lottery, turn it over to your post office or Postal Inspector.