Fresno, Calif. - After an uptick in recent cases, Fresno business owners are sharing a warning, be on the lookout for counterfeit cash. An alert business owner was able to identify a fake $100 bill being used by a customer at her store. She says local businesses need to know how to handle this common threat.
Fresno Police officers are getting reports of counterfeit cash being used at various businesses across the city, but say after a suspect leaves there isn't much they can do locally. They say right now business owners need to take every step to protect themselves from this crime.
"Just the fact that she was willing to target a small business and hurt a mom and pop. We have five kids. We don't need to be targeted like that. So for her to do that it really upset me," said Linda Whisenant, owner of Free Bird Company.
Whisenant says a woman came into her Tower District store and handed her a counterfeit $100 bill.
"It's getting more and more that you have to suspect everybody," said Whisenant.
Fortunately, Whisenant knew what to look for and the woman took off.
"They've gotten to where they will bleach out a lower denomination bill like a five dollar bill, or a one dollar bill and then reprint it as a 20 or 100," said Whisenant.
In this scenario markers won't alert to non-currency paper. So Whisenant invested in a four dollar light that's saved her hundreds.
"This says 20 and it says twenty dollar bill on there so I know that's supposed to be a $20 bill," Whisenant showed us.
Taking fake cash still haunts the owner of Most Wanted Tattoo and Body Piercing.
"Thats something I could never make up. I'll think about it forever. For reals," said owner Augustin Rubio.
Fake bills are kept in the glass by Rubio's register as a reminder that fake cash is a constant threat.
"At least once a month. So 12 times a year," said Rubio.
In nearly 20 years here Rubio has learned crooks target small businesses like his and Free Bird Company in the Tower District.
"You know when they try? It's right before you're closing and if it hasn't been a good day for you they know a lot of times you take the money," said Rubio.
If a business owner identifies fake cash Fresno Police need to know right away.
"If that person who is suspected of passing that counterfeit bill is present that's when we want business owners to call and we will investigate," said Fresno Police Department Lt. Steve Card.
If businesses identify counterfeit money, but the suspect is gone, Fresno Police say to call 559 487-5204 to alert the Fresno field office of the United States Secret Service who will take over the investigation.
For a full breakdown of ways to identify counterfeit cash and what to do about it visit http://www.uscurrency.gov