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Secret Service asked to help stop outbreak of counterfeit currency in central New York

Ryan Delaney
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., holds up Monopoly money as a prop as he calls for help investigating a rash of counterfeit money being used in central New York.

Local police and Sen. Charles Schumer are asking the Secret Service to investigate a rash of counterfeit money that has turned up recently.

A handful of local businesses, from Wegman’s to Empire Brewery have been fooled in the past few weeks by fake bills. In all, law enforcement says 10 businesses in central New York have fallen victim to counterfeit currency in the past month. 

Also victim has been Byrne Dairy, where regional manager James Kehoe says each register has a counterfeit detection pen for employees to use, which he demonstrates on a new $100 bill. 

Credit Ryan Delaney / WRVO
James Kehoe, a regional manager for Byrne Dairy, with a $100 bill and counterfeit detection pen.

A line drawn on across the bill turns amber. "And the banks use this as well, it’s going to tell the bill is good," Kehoe said. 

The ink would have turned black before disappearing if the bill was a forgery. The pens aren’t perfect, says vice president Christian Burrell.

"They use them," Burrell said of Byrne Dairy's 700 employees. "Now have they caught anyone, I couldn’t sit here and say that, but I think it deters them, I really do, knowing that we have them and they see them using them. So if someone is in line and they see us using them, they would be less likely, I at least hope they would."

Syracuse police issued an alert last week about an outbreak in counterfeit money of 10 cases in the past month. It got Schumer’s attention and he’s asking for the Secret Service to investigate.

"Because of the increase we’ve seen, we want increased effort, increased personnel, increased focus here on central New York," Schumer said.

It’s the lesser known role of the Secret Service, but actually its original mission to investigation fake money. Local law enforcement says right now they know little about the criminals or if the bills are coming from the same underground printer.

About $100,000 worth of phony money passes through central New York each year, according to local law enforcement officials.