How to avoid counterfeit cash? Don't get in a rush with money
(1/14/2020) - With credit card scams making headlines frequently, switching to cash often seems like the safer option.
But some Mid-Michigan businesses found out the hard way on Sunday that's not necessarily the case when counterfeiters are at work.
The Hungry Howie's pizzeria in Holly was one of three businesses there to receive counterfeit $100 bills. Farrah Bologna, who is the shift leader, said an employee missed a critical step.
The suspects "walked in and ordered two pizzas and they never came back for them," Bologna said. "The person who tendered the cash was supposed to mark the bills, were supposed to mark any bill over $20, $50 or $100 to see if they're counterfeit and we failed to do so."
The Holly Police Department is looking for a male suspect who was traveling with two females in a white Ford Explorer. All three of the fake $100 bills have the same serial number and a white strip on the back side of the bill.
Anyone with information on the suspects is asked to call Holly police.
Bologna said it's unfortunate crimes like this have to happen, because people's hard earned paychecks are affected in the end. But she's doing her best to keep it from happening again.
"Every time our drivers come back with a select amount of cash, I go along with a pen now and mark them all and if they come up as counterfeit, I guess we're going to have more losses," she said.
ELGA Credit Union CEO Karen Church said vigilance, taking time to study cash and trusting instincts are the best way to protect from ending up with counterfeit cash.
"Don't be in a hurry, stuff it in your wallet, and later go to use it and find out it's counterfeit," she said. "It's the worst feeling ever."
The U.S. Treasury Department believes about $61 million worth of counterfeit currency was put into circulation in 2005.
"There are ways to look at a bill in the light and make sure that it's right," Church said. "Flip it over, look at the back side of the bill. They're getting very artistic on the front side, but the back side isn't as good."
The $100 bill has security measures built into it. Church said the person who receives fake money from a friend or business ultimately is responsible for it. There is no recourse to claim a reimbursement.
"You do not want to take a bill that you have a question about," Church said. "If you're given something that you question, simply give it back at the time you're given it and say, 'Please exchange this for another bill. I don't feel right about that bill.'"
She also advises anyone who receives cash to buy a counterfeit detection pen, which costs only a few dollars. Banks and credit unions also will inspect cash to make sure it is legitimate.