Police seeing more cases of counterfeit money than previous years

Today’s businesses have plenty to worry about — from making sales, growing certain aspects of the company, employee retention, and cyber attacks are just to name a few. In fact, with 75% to 80% of malicious attacks coming from internal threats, businesses need to make sure they’re on top of their game at all times. But there’s one more thing that companies should be worried about recently: counterfeit money.

Counterfeit money has been an ongoing problem, but it’s recently been circulating in Kentucky, Illinois, and other states throughout the country. According to the Metropolis Police Chief, Harry Masse, the department has already seenmultiple cases of counterfeit money this year, amounting to dozens more than they saw last year.

While there are laws in place to prevent counterfeit money from being made, like the Counterfeit Detection Act of 1992, which states fake bills must be less than 75% of more than 150% the size of a real bill, counterfeit money continues to make its way into businesses across the country.

So, how can businesses tell when someone is trying to use counterfeit money?

One of the most common ways businesses test for counterfeit money is by using counterfeit detection pens. When marked on a fake bill, the marker color will turn a different color. But while this method is one of the most convenient, the pens aren’t always completely accurate.

When looking at a fake bill, you should always look for the characteristic watermark. On a real bill, the watermark should only be seen when held up to a light, it should be on the right side of the bill, and should match the face on the bill.

Along with looking at the watermarks, businesses can tell if a bill is real or fake by feeling the bill. The texture of a bill can determine whether it’s real or not — counterfeit bills will feel smooth, almost like real paper. But a real bill should have raised printing and an unsmooth texture. If the bill feels too smooth, it may be a fake.

If a business does come into contact with a counterfeit bill, there are a few important steps that should be followed. First and foremost, the police should be contacted as soon as possible. The counterfeit money should not be given back to the customer and businesses should take note of what the customer looks like to give a description if necessary.

It’s important to remember that businesses cannot exchange fake bills for real ones, so if a business receives a payment of counterfeit money, there’s a good chance they’re going to lose money. So as counterfeit bills are circulating, businesses should ensure they’re insured if possible and their employees know how to spot fake money.

Chemicals used in Deepwater Horizon spill were ineffective, study says

THE GULF OF MEXICO (UPI) — The chemical dispersants used to clean up oil after the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 were ineffective and unneeded, a new study says.

Researchers report in a study published this week that dispersants used in the largest oil spill in U.S. history — 210 million gallons of oil poured into the Gulf over 87 days after a BP oil rig exploded — played no role in its clean up.

BP injected 3,000 tons of a subsea dispersant called Corexit to push back the spread of oil and dissolve its particles. Instead, the researchers report, the dispersant was rendered ineffective due to the depth of the oil.

And according to the study, the Corexit may have suppressed the growth of oil degrading sea bacteria, in addition to making the oil itself more toxic.

“The results of this study are critically important,” Samantha Joye, a University of Georgia researcher and the study’s co-author, said in a press release.

“This work shows clearly that the eruptive nature of the Macondo discharge was more than sufficient to generate the deepwater oil plume. Further, application of dispersant did not increase the amount of oil in the aqueous phase or change the distribution of oil over depth. These findings should change the way we think about spill response and calls for a reconsideration and reprioritization of response measures.”

The researchers think the “capping stack” method that BP used to ultimately stop the wellhead outflow during the 2010 spill could be an effective first response plan.

The researchers also suggest that ditching the Corexit chemical for less toxic bio-surfactant agents that encourage biodegeneration, may offer a practical option for oil spills in shallow waters.

Joye’s research team used BP Gulf Science Data water chemistry data compiled in the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, as part of a massive data collection effort for the study.

“Our earlier work using computer modeling and high-pressure experimental approaches suggested that pumping chemical dispersants at the spewing wellhead may have had little effect on the amount of oil that ultimately surfaced,” said Claire Paris, a professor of ocean sciences at the University of Miami.

“But empirical evidence was lacking until the release of the BP Gulf Science Data. When completely different approaches converge to the same conclusion, it is time to listen. There is no real trade-off because there is no upside in using ineffective measures that can worsen environmental disasters,” Paris said.

FTC orders MoneyGram to pay $125M in settlement

DALLAS (UPI) — MoneyGram International agreed Thursday to pay $125 million to settle claims it failed to prevent fraudulent money transfers.

That settlement amount is part of the company’s 2012 deferred prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice and an order from the Federal Trade Commission.

In 2012, MoneyGram, the Justice Department said, failed to live up to a deferred prosecution agreement requiring the Dallas-based global money services business to to provide adequate anti-fraud and anti-money laundering programs.

The 2012 agreement also required MoneyGram to retain a corporate monitor to report regularly to the Justice Department for the next five years.

That agreement came about after MoneyGram breached a FTC order from 2009.

The order required MoneyGram to perform timely fraud investigations for any location that received two or more complaints of fraud inside of 30 days or received fraud complaints of at least 5 percent or more of that location’s monthly transactions. It also needed to close down any locations involved in “fraud-induced” transfers.

“The FTC’s 2009 order required MoneyGram to protect consumers from fraud through its money transfer system, and today we are holding MoneyGram accountable for its failure to do so,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons said in a statement. “MoneyGram’s alleged failure to implement key provisions of the order allowed scammers to continue to use its money transfer system to rip off consumers.”

Between 2004 and 2009, MoneyGram collected fees and other money from transactions carried out by its own agents it knew had involvement in international money fraud schemes. The schemes targeted the elderly and other vulnerable groups by falsely posing as relatives in need of money, promising large cash prizes or offering Internet sales at greatly discounted prices. The agents directed the victims to send funds through MoneyGram’s money transfer system.

MoneyGram also agreed to stop reported fraud receivers and senders from using its money transfer system within two days of receiving a complaint about those individuals. The company must require anyone sending or receiving money in any country to show government-issued identification.

It also must monitor all U.S. originated transfers, and fire or restrict agents who process a high number of transactions by a reported fraud receiver or sender.

MoneyGram said it has invested more than $100 million in compliance technology and agent training programs to help stop fraud, The Wall Street Journal reported.