Counterfeit money was sprayed with starch to fool detection markers, Franklin police say

FRANKLIN, Ind. – Franklin police arrested an Indianapolis woman who was allegedly using counterfeit money treated with laundry starch in order to fool counterfeit detection markers.

The arrest came Saturday afternoon after Franklin police received a call from an employee at the Kroger Marketplace on U.S. 31. The caller said a young woman had just used a counterfeit $100 bill and was leaving the store in a black Chrysler Sebring. A responding officer stopped the Chrysler in the nearby Kohl’s parking lot and began talking with Honesty Beecher, 18, of Indianapolis.

Police say Beecher initially denied knowing any of her cash was counterfeit, but later admitted to buying the fake bills for $10 each from a man selling them near her apartments at 38th Street and Shadeland Avenue in Indianapolis.

Police took Beecher into custody on charges including counterfeiting and theft/receiving stolen property. They collected nine counterfeit $100 bills. Police say two of the bills were found stuck down into the back seat of the patrol car after Beecher was transported to the Johnson County jail.

In addition to the counterfeit money, police found receipts and items from nearby stores including Kroger, PetSmart, Big Lots and Tractor Supply. They also found receipts from stores in Greenfield and Richmond. Officers also found $579 in genuine cash.

“She would use a fake bill, buy something small and get large amounts of change to where she had real currency at that time,” said Franklin police Lt. Scott Summers. “It is something that we’ve dealt with for some time, but not on this level. And that is concerning that she was able to get by with so much before she was actually caught.”

Unlike real money, police say the counterfeit bills were printed on white paper. One of the bills had a white mark where the ink had come off the paper.

An evidence technician said the paper bills had been sprayed with laundry starch, which allowed them to pass a counterfeit detection marker test.

“The starch interacts with the paper and the marker and makes it react in a positive test,” Summers said.

The case comes two weeks after Southport police arrested a 17-year-old who allegedly had 11 $100 bills in the car he was driving. The investigation later led Southport police to $12,500 in counterfeit bills hidden in the laundry room of an apartment complex.

While Summers doesn’t have reason to believe the two cases are connected, he says both cases illustrate the need for businesses to maintain vigilant security.

“I hope that it’s not an indication of an uptick, but the propensity is definitely there,” Summers said.

Summers also said it’s always important for anyone who carries cash to closely check money for security marks after receiving bills at businesses and banks. He said counterfeit bills often slip past security and remain in circulation.

“Watermarks and the strips that are placed in and if you look closely at a real bill, they’re kind of red and blue fibers that are weaved together,” Summers said. “For every time that we catch somebody, there are many times that we don’t. So it can be a huge problem.”

The U.S. Secret Service has an online guide to checking money for authenticity. You can find that guide on their website.

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