Watseka police arrest man trying to use phony $20 bills

December 19, 2018

WATSEKA — A recent forgery arrest in Watseka took an international turn.

Watseka police arrested 51-year-old James F. Koch Jr., of Sheldon, and charged him with forgery on Dec. 12.

A judge released him on $1,000 recognizance bond on Dec. 13.

According to a release from Watseka police, officers were called to two businesses about a man trying to pass a counterfeit $20 U.S. bill that had Chinese writing on it.

Koch was arrested after a traffic stop in which officers recovered one of the fake bills.

The investigation is ongoing, and more arrests are expected, according to a release.

River Valley Metro Mass Transit District CEO Rob Hoffman said in an email to the Daily Journal today they started seeing fake $1 bills with the Chinese writing on them four months ago. He sent a photo of a bill they received.

Watseka Chief Jeremy Douglas said his department recently recovered three to four fake bills around town.

The Manteca (Calif.) police posted a warning on Facebook after a $100 bill was recovered in February.

“These bills come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100. The bills are stamped with pink Chinese words and are missing several security features. Some Chinese words written on the bill translate as ‘not to be used as real currency’ and ‘bill to be used for counting practice.’ These are used by Chinese banks for training purposes and are not legal tender. These bills are available online for purchase and are legal to buy for their designed purpose.”

According to a Clallam (Wash.) County Sheriff’s Department’s November 2016 Facebook post: “The bills are very realistic. The counterfeit currency might be capable of passing the counterfeit pen test, which should not be relied upon. In some cases, the currency has been ‘washed’ to remove the Chinese characters.”

There are reports of the bills popping up in Green Bay, Wis., in June and Knox County in Kentucky in April.

Update hourly