ALBANY, GA (WALB) - More than a dozen Albany businesses have reported seeing counterfeit 10-dollar bills in the last week and a half.
Police are warning you to check your money carefully.
This is one of the phony bills turned in to Albany Police.
Most of the businesses that reported the counterfeits are restaurants or convenience stores in South or East Albany.
Investigators say most of the phony tens have the same serial number... so they suspect the same crook is making them.
And the quality isn't that great.
Albany Police Detective George Barber said "To me it's quite obvious that some of the bills are fake. The color isn't the same as a real ten dollar bill. And the quality of the paper isn't the same as well."
Albany Police recommend businesses get one of these electronic bill testers that analyze the security features on bills in seconds.
The machines cost less than one hundred dollars.
You can check your money by holding a bill up to a light and look for the security features.
Phony money has long been an on-going problem in South Georgia. In April, 21 year-old Jamal Lane ran from officers, but police caught him with nearly $1,900 worth of counterfeit $20 bills and two stolen guns. He's charged with 94 counts of forgery and two counts of theft by receiving.
In March, WALB viewers are credited with helping prosecutors indict three people on 25 counts of forgery. Prosecutors say November 18th Adrionna Holmes, Dominique Thomas, and Brian White went to Belk's in the Albany Mall and bought a $355 purse with counterfeit money then returned the purse later that day and got real cash back.
After we showed surveillance video, viewers called crime stoppers and identified those three suspects who the grand jury just indicted.
In November, counterfeit bills were numerous at Albany stores. Some of them were passed at the Fastbreak Store on Old Dawson Road. The manager said a man and woman with a child bought a bottle of wine, beer, and a phone card worth $20. They paid with four $5 bills, which were counterfeit.
Only days later, A 21-year-old Thomasville man is charged with using counterfeit bills to buy drinks at a downtown Albany bar. Konterrious Anthony faces 1st degree forgery charges. Off-duty police working security at the Legend Club and Lounge said bar employees alerted them Anthony was passing counterfeit $10 bills to buy drinks for a group of women.
Also in November, crooks took advantage of the holiday spirit to rip off stores with counterfeit bills. Police surveillance video caught a man and woman buying that purse at Belk Sunday afternoon. Police say they are counterfeiters pulling a rip off. They bought that purse with $350 dollars in counterfeit bills, and an hour later returned it, receiving real cash in return.
Secret Service Agents say they're already seeing the holiday increase in phony money. U.S. Secret Service Albany Office Resident Agent in Charge Billy Joe Powers said "It has to do with the busyness of the store. The extra commerce that is taking place. And the clerks are busy at that time."
The East Oakridge Winn Dixie reported a woman passing two counterfeit ten dollar bills. Secret Service Agents say Black Friday is a time that stores have to be on special watch for counterfeiters, and so do you, because that phony bill could be returned to you before it's spotted.
To protect yourself, the Secret Service recommends you know your money. Powers said "there are security features that are built into the money. It makes it to where just the average person can tell good from counterfeit."
More bleached out bills are being seen. A real five dollar has the ink bleached off, and then printed to look like a $50. You can check the watermark quickly by holding the bill up to the light and look at the right side.
Powers said "You need to make sure that whoever is pictured on the face of the note, like this one the 50 with President Grant. That his likeness would also be in the watermark." Police say professional crooks like this are already at work, and the Secret Service warns shoppers to look closely at your money before you walk away from the store register.
They say if you suspect you have a counterfeit bill, to go ahead and report it to the store and to the authorities.
Learn more about your money here.