COLUMBUS - Two women were arrested in Columbus last week for using counterfeit $100 bills at local businesses. Melissa Wiseman and Erika Madigan, both of whom have since bonded out of jail, were arrested in separate incidents on Aug. 16 and 17.

Columbus Chief of Police Jason Daniels said that as the investigation proceeds, local businesses should continue to be vigilant when accepting cash, and maintain constant awareness of the possibility of encountering fake currency.

"Our officers made visits to numerous Columbus businesses, advising business owners of the counterfeit bills being circulated in our town," Chief Daniels said in a statement. "Our intent is to raise awareness throughout the entire community, thus, protecting the financial interests of our citizens. As a precaution, please thoroughly check your bills. If you have a doubt or question on the authenticity of any bill, be sure to take it to your local bank for peace of mind. Please report all suspicious currency to the Columbus Police Department, as well as anyone attempting to use it."

Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves said that fake bills had shown in the Baxter Springs area a few weeks ago as well.

"I would strongly recommend that any business owner, especially a cash retail business owner, to talk with their employees and make sure they know how to check for counterfeit bills, such as the security strip, hologram, texture of bills, etc.," said Sheriff Groves. "I would also encourage employees to contact their employer or local law enforcement agency if they receive a suspicious bill. While some of the money has been counterfeit, there is also fake money that can be circulated. One example of fake money is bills that say 'For Motion Picture Use Only.' These appear real, which is why it's important to examine the bills closely."

The sheriff said his understanding was the bills passed last week in Columbus had a foreign red stamping on the back of the bill. Many retailers rely on specially designed counterfeit bill detector pens, that employees swipe large bills with. All the pen does is check for chemicals common in some of the more poorly done counterfeit bills, however, with the rise of digital printing and counterfeiters specifically treating their bills so they will not respond to the pen test, this is becoming an increasingly ineffective line of defense.

Counterfeiters can sometimes duplicate one or two security features, but rarely succeed in reproducing all of them. Some things to look for in assuring authenticity:

Color-shifting ink

One of the first places to check and see whether or not a bill is authentic is the bottom right hand corner. All denominations of $5 or more have color-shifting ink here. This security feature has been used since 1996. On the new $100 bills, the inkwell also has color shifting ink, turning green and becoming extra visible when shifted to a flatter visual plane.

Blue and red threads

Upon close examination of an authentic bill you will see that there are small blue and red threads woven in and out within the fabric of the bill. Printers try to reproduce this effect by printing red and blue threads onto the bill in a similar pattern, but a close look will often reveal that such printing is merely surface level, tipping you off to a counterfeit.

Raised printing

All authentic US reserve notes have raised printing. Many times, counterfeiters have a tough time duplicating this kind of printing method. To detect raised printing, take your fingernail and run it carefully down the collar/jacket. You should feel a slightly rough texture and some vibration on your nail from the ridges.

Blurred printing

Authentic currency is extremely detailed and made using die-cut printing plates that are capable of creating impressively fine lines. Even most industrial printers rarely are capable of replicating the same level of detail.

Micro-printing

Authentic money has super fine text located at various places on the bill. Counterfeiters often do not have sophisticated enough printing equipment to duplicate micro-printing fine enough to be easily read.

Serial numbers

The serial numbers on each bill are designed to correspond to series/run year printed on the bill. Each letter that starts a serial number for a bill corresponds to a specific year: E = 2004; G = 2004A; I = 2006; J = 2009; L = 2009A.