Osceola, Lake counties investigating counterfeit money

OSCEOLA COUNTY  — An investigation is underway into counterfeit bills that have been circulated in Osceola, Lake and Wexford counties.

The fake bills came to the attention of multiple law enforcement agencies in the last few weeks.

Osceola County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Chris Lockhart said the fake $100 bills are 2006, A-series bills and have been made very well.

"The information we're getting is that the bills are very good and are making it into the banks," Lockhart said. "They are passing the marker test, so the only way to check is to look closely when holding the bill to the light."

The face of Benjamin Franklin is accurately depicted on the fake bills, but when the bill is held up to light the watermark does not line up and is blurry, not crisp.

The Osceola County Sheriff's Department has four confirmed counterfeit $100 bills, all of which were used at local businesses in Reed City.

There are no reported cases or active investigations into counterfeit bills surfacing in Mecosta County, Mecosta County Sheriff Todd Purcell said.

Lake County Sheriff Bob Hilts said his department has seen about a half dozen fake $100 bills and also a few $50 bills.

The U.S. Department of Treasury has been contacted, Hilts said. The Lake County Sheriff's Department was advised to continue its investigation at this time, he said.

"Right now we're just trying to track down the origin of the money," Hilts said. "That's the only way to get to the source in a counterfeit operation. We have to go backwards."

A person of interest has been identified, according to Lockhart.

"All agencies involved are working together to bring this matter to a close," he said.

Anybody who has a counterfeit bill is asked to contact their local law enforcement agency.