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U.S. Secret Service: Beware of counterfeit money during busy holiday shopping season

Operation ‘Quick Glance’ underway to inform retailers, customers how to identify counterfeit money

SAN ANTONIO – The U.S. Secret Service says roughly a million dollars in counterfeit money is circulated in the San Antonio area each year. The holiday season can be a good time for that money to travel without being detected.

The Secret Service says a quick glance at the large bills received by retailers or customers could save them in the long run.

Here’s what to look for:

  • Foreign writing on the front and back of the note.
  • The words “for motion picture use only” or the word “replica” on the bill.

De Wese’s Tip Top Cafe general manager Cecilio Ojeda said this is the time of the year when crooks usually start trying to pass counterfeit bills at his cafe. For more than seven decades, the cafe only handled cash transactions, and employees were accustomed to coming across fake bills.

“They usually hit you when you’re busy,” Ojeda said. “That’s when you don’t have time to check things really good, and that’s when they really get you.”

Ojeda recently made an investment that would capture the fakes without a problem — a machine that beeps when the real bills over $20 are scanned. It can also capture the watermark on the bill.

“Believe me, this machine is worth it. It saves us a lot of money,” he said.

The U.S. Secret Service says bills under $10 are less popular but can be counterfeited. If you come across a fake bill, call police to report it, or call the U.S. Secret Service San Antonio office at 210-308-6220.


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