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Counterfeit U.S. $20 currency circulating in central Okinawa

Date Posted: 2007-12-19

Counterfeiters are at it again, passing American $20 bills officials believe were made on copy machines.
Okinawa City Police investigators say the bills, which have been circulating since September, are crudely made, and do not have the watermarks found in real U.S. currency. Taxi drivers and shop owners who have been receiving the phony money say the bills feel different to the touch. “I didn’t realize at all when somebody brought the money into my shop and paid for drinks,” said one bar owner. “I didn’t know it was fake until I went to the bank to change it to yen, and the bank lady said ‘sorry, one of your $20 bills is a fake, and we can’t exchange it’.”
Banks are not allowed to accept or exchange counterfeit money. Police say the money has been circulating in Chatan Town, Okinawa City and Uruma City, with the latest bills surfacing last week.
“It looks like many people are using this fake money,” a police investigator says. He said at least 30 fake $20 bills have been recovered already, mostly from taxi drivers who accepted it as fares. One taxi driver recounted a November 18th fare, saying “there were two foreigners who took a ride in my taxi from Okinawa City Yoshiwara entertainment district to Camp Hansen.” He said it was about “5 a.m. and these two guys were a black and a white male, and they both paid me with $20 paper money, but it was dark and I couldn’t realize it was fake money.” The driver said he saw the men’s faces and would be able to recognize them.
Police say all bills discovered to date have the same serial number, GK19983307C. They urge everyone to examine bills closely before accepting them, noting the paper has a totally different feeling, and is harder than real money. Investigators say it is very easy to notice the differences in the fake money.
Okinawa City Police have apprehended several men in connection with the case, and say several others are under investigation. Police say they’ll ask the Okinawa Prefectural Police to get involved in the case, and are prepared to hand the men now in custody over to them.

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