A counterfeit bill was recently traced back to White Sands Missile Range after a WSMR employee tried to make a purchase in Las Cruces.
WSMR employee Rupert Balderrama said he did not immediately notice that he received a counterfeit $10 bill after making a purchase at the commissary during his lunch hour.
After work, Balderrama went into a gas station in Las Cruces to purchase lottery tickets when the cashier told him he had a counterfeit bill.
“I thought she was joking,” Balderrama said. “She marked it with a pen and compared it to other bills in the register and it was fake.”
Balderrama remembered receiving the money at the installation’s commissary and filed a report with WSMR police.
“We checked local stores like the PX, Subway, and the commissary; every store that receives cash,” said Capt. Tom Benavidez, of WSMR DES. “We wanted to make sure it was an isolated incident.”
“It was only one bill at the commissary,” Benavidez said. “Someone may have picked it up somewhere else.”
Benavidez said that finding counterfeit money on the installation is not common and the counterfeit notes that have been found have been low denominations. The last occurrence happened in 2012 when a counterfeit $20 bill was found.
WSMR police issued a flyer pointing out the differences between the counterfeit note and a real $10 bill to help the community identify counterfeit bills. The flyer shows that the counterfeit bill is a different color, has thicker characters, brighter watermarks, and is a different size.
Balderrama said he has since learned what to look for to identify counterfeit bills and recommends community members take their time to look at their money when they receive it.