Business owner warns of phony currency - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Business owner warns of phony currency

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

December 23, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Funny money is going around Albany and a small business owner wants to warn others about it.

She lost 250 bucks in one day, and a common practice used to detect fake bills, didn't work for her.

Small businesses are struggling enough these days. At China Garden USA in Albany, business is sometimes day to day, so when two customers recently passed fake bills, it took away money they would normally use just to get through the week.

The funny money is not so funny to Kristena Dermawan. She and her husband own China Garden USA, and lost $250 bucks last week when two counterfeit $100 bills and a fake $50 were used by customers.

"That's a payment toward something that we need. Supplies or bills. That could hurt all small businesses that are like us," said Kristena.

Kristena used a counterfeit detection pen, but the pen didn't flag the currency as bad. When she tried to deposit it in the bank, the bank told her it was fake. "That's the only security we have to say that it is the real McCoy, you know."

Secret Service Agent Stanley Burress says the pens are a good tool to detect counterfeit money, but they don't always flag fakes. "They are used as a general guide to check for Counterfeit currency, but they're not absolutely accurate 100% of the time."

He says the best way to catch a fake, is to know what real currency looks like. "Learn the difference between genuine currency and counterfeit currency based on what a genuine note should look like and therefore you can tell the defects in the counterfeit currency."

He also says take a close look at the money, even use a magnifying glass to check details, and if someone tries to pass something that isn't real, get a description of the person, keep the money and call police.

Kristena says she'll look a little closer next time, so the bad guys won't take away any of her hard earned cash.

"They're giving us the fake stuff, but then we're giving back the good stuff so they can go do whatever they want to do with it."

Here's a red flag for businesses: If a customer tries to pass a large bill for a small purchase, like a $100 bill for a $5 meal, you may want to check that bill even closer. But you may not catch all the fakes.

Agent Burress put me to the test today and I failed. Several times I could not tell the difference between genuine and counterfeit currency.

If you end up with fake bills, keep the money and call police. Try to give them as much information as possible about the person who passed it on to you.

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