Businesses report increase in counterfeit bills

Last person in possession of fake currency, responsible for loss


Reports of counterfeit dollar bills are popping up around the city, as multiple fake bills have been found and turned in to authorities.

Margarita Avalos, cashier at Malone Grocery on the city's South Side, said she sees an increase of the fake bills especially around tax season.

"I've seen every denomination, except for a dollar bill," Avalos said.  "I've got fifties and twenties in the last three months, about five times by myself."

Another local man, who asked to be identified by the name Mike, said he went to an area Subway restaurant and was given a fake $20 bill as change.

"I gave them a $50 bill, they gave me some change back and I got this $20," Mike said. "The following day, I went to go eat at Bill Miller's to pay with this $20, and they said they wouldn't accept it because it was counterfeit."   

Mike said the bill looks authentic, but would not pass the "marker test" when used with a counterfeit money detector pen, commonly used among businesses. He said he's now in the habit of proactively asking for the marker test upon receiving change.

"If I go to the store now, I get them to mark the money to see if it's good, because I don't want to end up with another fake $20," Mike said.

According to the United States Secret Service, if a person comes across counterfeit cash, they can return it to a bank, police, or the Secret Service.

However, they will not be reimbursed with an authentic bill. The agency says the last person in possession of the counterfeit money is responsible for the loss.

Avalos said she's also become more aware of the counterfeit bills, as accidentally accepting one at her place of work means the loss is taken out of her paycheck.

"If we don't take it here, they'll use it somewhere else," Avalos said. "And so that's why it's our responsibility to find it, pick it up, and turn it in."

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