Police alerting businesses about counterfeit bills

Christina Calloway

Roosevelt County law enforcement officials are alerting the public and local businesses of counterfeit money being passed at local businesses.

According to Sgt. Kirk Wilson of the Portales Police Department, eight cases have been reported within the last seven days — which includes cases with the Roosevelt County Sheriff and the Eastern New Mexico University Police Department.

Portales sees about two counterfeit cases a year, according to Wilson.

Bill amounts have ranged from $5 to $100, according to the PPD’s statement. Portales police note the bills that have been passed are slightly smaller in size than real bills.

Wilson said police officials a following a couple leads.

Since the counterfeiting of currency is a federal crime, depending on the extent of their involvement, individuals caught using counterfeit money may be charged with fraud and or forgery in the state of New Mexico in addition to possible federal charges, according to Wilson.

With the advances of technology, Wilson said it is extremely difficult to copy the look and feel of money.

Roosevelt Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Karl Terry said small business owners should be particularly careful.

“These people are more likely to target smaller businesses and a small business on a tight budget can’t afford to take even a smaller bill because it can really cut into their profits for the day,” Terry said.

“As far as I know, we haven’t seen any counterfeit bills but we have been required to check all bills $10 and up because we’ve been informed to do so,” said JoAnn Estrada, an employee at El Rancho restaurant in Portales.

Should someone come in contact with a counterfeit bill, officials are asking that they immediately contact police.

“I haven’t came in contact with one but I did hear about it (Tuesday) so I have been checking,” said Ian Mountjoy, owner of the Portales sandwich shop Do Drop In. “Even my customers are aware. I had one customer check their bill in front of me before they paid.”