STAMFORD, Conn. -- Authorities say counterfeit $100 bills realistic enough to pass as the real thing have been circulating throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, reports CBS New York.
Stamford, Conn. Police Cpt. Richard Conklin says the fake hundreds are created in New York City and cashed in at malls in Connecticut and New Jersey.
"They use a $1 bill and they chemically treat it and they take all the ink off of it. So this is just a white sheet of paper now," Conklin said.
Then, reports CBS New York, they take the whitewashed paper and reprint it as a $100 bill using high-tech printers..The genuine paper makes it possible for the bills to pass the pen test at most stores.
But Stamford police busted one 18-year-old when she tried to use several fake $100 bills at a shopping mall.
"We encountered this in a drug raid several months ago. We saw bills in the process of being stripped. But this is the first time we've made an arrest on it," Conklin said.
At first glance, the fake $100s look and feel like the real thing, but the employees became suspicious when they noticed printer marks, said Zumiez store employee Pamela Galdamez.
"The ink of the bill was kind of smushed and at some parts, it had too much ink on it. And it just looked funny -- way too funny for it to be a real bill," Galdamez said.
Police say this type of counterfeiting is only possible on hundred dollar bills made before 1996.
After that, the U.S. Treasury began using security bands and water marks. Police are now asking people to be on alert for bills made in the 1990s.
"There's really not that many of them left in circulation so if you get them, I would be careful. I would ask someone if they have something smaller or a different bill," Conklin said.