MONTICELLO — Police arrested three men after they reportedly tried to pass forged $100 bills at several establishments in Piatt County this week.
Monticello Police Chief John Carter said Cerro Gordo law enforcement officials sent out an alert Thursday, saying forgers had passed bad bills in that community. Fake bills were also used in Bement before the suspects were arrested around 9 p.m. Thursday in Monticello.
"I don't know how long they were in town," Carter said. "They hit two businesses in town and were in a third when they got spooked by police," leading to their arrest near Market and Elm Streets.
Besides Monticello, Bement and Cerro Gordo police, the Piatt County Sheriff's Department and U.S. Secret Service are involved with the case. Names of the suspects are being withheld while officials consider federal charges.
Carter did confirm the suspects were all from New York state, and were driving a Nissan vehicle. He said the forged bills used a limited amount of serial numbers, one of which has shown up 108 times to law enforcement officials nationwide.
A new $100 bill was issued last year, and included new measures that make it easier to authenticate and more difficult to replicate. But Carter thinks many businesses are not as familiar with the new currency since it has only been in circulation since last October.
He recommends the use of counterfeit detector pens, which can quickly determine if a bill is genuine. The chief also asked anyone who received suspicious bills to contact the Monticello Police Department at 217-762-2121 or 217-762-7727.
Security features of the new bill include a blue 3-D ribbon with images of bells and 100s, and a color-changing bell in an inkwell.