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Hawaii Island police warn of bogus $100 bills

In April, state police warned the public about the usage of counterfeit $100 bills in East Hawaii. They told KHON2 News there have been around a dozen cases of this type of counterfeit in the last month.

“It appears the culprits are taking $1 — in another case, a $2 bill — and bleaching the ink off and printing over the original currency to make it look like a $100,” Hawaii Island police Capt. Rio Amon-Wilkins told KHON2 News. “Because it’s being printed on original U.S. currency notes, the pen still works properly and doesn’t identify it as counterfeit.”

Amon-Wilkins says the culprits will typically purchase something small, like a $5 item, with a fake $100 bill and then get real currency back in exchange.

He notes this is the first time he’s dealt with a case where fraudsters were working with original currency that had been washed and reprinted.

Ramos held onto the counterfeit money and told the customer she would have to report his incident to the Hawaii Island police.

She says she noticed the woman had a couple of $20 bills in her wallet and asked her whether she’d prefer to pay with those instead, but the woman declined.

“That’s when it popped in my head, that’s where she got the $20’s from, she’s giving stores fake $100 to get real cash out of it, and she doesn’t want to use the real money,” Ramos explains.

“I’m glad I was able to catch that, and hopefully this will help others.”

Don't miss

3 ways to stretch your dollar (legally)

A scrubbed and reprinted dollar isn’t worth the jail time. There are smarter ways to stretch your spare change instead.

For example, some platforms let you invest your leftover change from your everyday purchases into a diversified portfolio that automatically rebalances as the market changes.

You could also store your dollars in a high-yield savings account to protect yourself in case of emergencies or unexpected expenses. Currently some high-yield savings accounts offer interest rates of 5% or more.

Or, consider a lucrative side hustle, like sprucing up your space and renting out a spare room through Airbnb, selling off your old clothes and electronics on a resale platform or renting out gently used baby gear you no longer need.

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Serah Louis is a reporter with Moneywise.com. She enjoys tackling topical personal finance issues for young people and women and covering the latest in financial news.

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