Chatham County Police investigating spread of counterfeit cash

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Chatham County Police are issuing a warning after counterfeit money has been seen at local businesses over the past few weeks.

They've seen everything from fake $5 bills to $100 bills. Police have been looking into the spread of counterfeit bills for several weeks now, but last week they told us they've noticed a concentration of it in two different areas being passed over the counter to unsuspecting clerks at several businesses.

At first glance, a fake $20 bill doesn't look much different from the real thing, and for clerks who might be in a hurry trying to thin out a long line of customers, it might be good enough to make it to the cash drawer.

"There are some good fakes out there, but you can normally feel," said Kathie Harrington.

Harrington works at the Gateway Fruit Stand at the 204/I-95 intersection. She is talking about the feel of the paper. She says if any of the employees feel uncomfortable with the quality of the bill, they don't take it. She says if the customer trying to pass the counterfeit cash gets upset, she offers to either call the police so they can fill out a report, or suggests they exchange it at their bank.

"Nine times out of 10, they don't want to take either one of those options," Harrington said.

Taking fake cash hurts any business, but for a mom and pop seasonal operation like Gateway Fruit Stand, too much could shut them down.

"When she starts receiving counterfeit money, she's losing money, and that can make the difference between her opening next year and her not opening next year," Harrington said. "We don't want to unintentionally pass a counterfeit bill to a guest of ours, you know, someone who comes up here to buy peaches or whatever. We don't want to inadvertently give them a counterfeit bill, and then down the line, they're out the money."

Chatham County Police say the counterfeit bills collected so far have been handed over to the Secret Service for further investigation.

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