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Published August 14, 2013, 10:00 PM

Special pens help businesses spot counterfeit money

Barnesville, MN (WDAY TV) - Three people are facing counterfeiting charges, after a gas station clerk in Barnesville spotted fake bills.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Barnesville, MN (WDAY TV) - Three people are facing counterfeiting charges, after a gas station clerk in Barnesville spotted fake bills.

Forty-two year old Margret Miramon, 51 year-old Ralph Taylor and 41 year-old Andrew Jenson made their first appearance in Clay County District court after police say they gave fake $20 bills to the clerk at the Barnesville Tesoro. The clerk discovered the phony notes with a counterfeit detector pen.

As technology changes, these inexpensive pens are becoming more useful in protecting businesses. These counterfeit detector pens can be found at just about any office supply store. They react with paper to clearly show if a bill is fake. Now, these are nothing new, but they are especially useful with the type of counterfeiting that is common these days.

Brenna Swanson was just going through the motions. After being handed a few $20 bills at the Tesoro gas station in Barnesville, she swiped them with the store's counterfeit detector pen as she had done hundreds of times before.

Brenna Swanson – Store Manager: "I took the marker to the 20s, noticed a color change. It was darker than any color I had actually seen. I held it up to the light and you can see a security strip and a water mark are added security features. Those were both absent."

That simple swipe of a pen led to three arrests after more bills were found. Counterfeit detector pens react with the paper used in a bill, showing up dark if it is fake. Real U.S. money is made with a fiber-based paper, not the usual wood-based paper.

Lieutenant Joel Vettel – Fargo Police: "Especially in this part of the country, we don't see those elaborate scams. We see very simple processes where people are utilizing just a simple sheet of paper and a copy machine to produce very realistic copies."

Besides being reliable, the pens are inexpensive. Stores like Office Depot and Amazon sell the pens for just a few dollars apiece.

Brenna Swanson: "It is definitely a good investment. We would have been out $50 on Monday if we had accepted and not used a pen."

Businesses that use these pens usually just use them on bigger bills like 20s, 50s, and 100s.

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