Counterfeit bills circulating in Augusta

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September 27, 2006

One form of white collar crime is on the rise in Augusta.

Last weekend, someone used fake $100 bills in at least three restaurants.

Three times in just a few days is significant. In fact, it's the first time in twelve years that Richmond County investigators have seen this many counterfeit bills in just two days.

If a $100 bill was handed to you, would you be able to tell if it was real?

At Barberitos, the motto is "To make fresh food, fast"...and with customers lined up at the door, it's easy to see how manager William Brown can lose track of who's coming and going.

"During our rush we get really busy, and I'm sure they took advantage of it," Brown told News 12.

Brown thinks the counterfeit crooks passed their phony Franklins through his store twice in one day.

"I think when they came in the first time, they saw how easy it was, and because the cashier didn't mark it, they said hey, we'll come back later and do it again," Brown said.

Barberitos wasn't the only restaurant scammed.

Last weekend, both a Waffle House and Burger King on Gordon Highway also took in the counterfeit cash.

"If they get high quality enough paper, a lot of store employees don't pick up on it," Inv. Pat Stahler told News 12. Inv. Stahler says the fake bills circulated this weekend all have major details missing.

"The ones we had are a lot heavier, and the color, instead of it being white, were yellow," he said.

If you don't have a counterfeit pen readily available, there are two easy ways to make sure the bill is the real deal. The first thing you should do is hold up to a light and check to see if there's a code on the left side. And on the right side, there should be a hologram of the president's face.

"We have to mark it up as a loss and we're out that money, so it's just like someone holding us up and robbing us," Brown said.

To keep prices from going up at the restaurant, Brown says he'll have to keep one eye on his register and the other on his monitors.

If you get a counterfeit bill as change, and then try to spend it somewhere else and get caught, you won't face charges...but you do lose that money.