April 3, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---Masters Week means more business...and more chances for fake money.
It's only Tuesday, and investigators have already found fake bills at the Bobby Jones Home Depot and Sam's Club.
Richmond County investigators say they get up to ten reports a week.
Money is changing hands every second. In the past couple months, more than 40 of these transactions were fake. 400 counterfeit dollars went to Dillard's.
"We're either out money or merchandise...sometimes both," said general manager Jim Saul.
His new policy is making sure the ink turns yellow on bills larger than $20.
But it's a little harder with the naked eye, the method of choice for many smaller businesses and customers like George Hining.
"You don't know it's counterfeit, and someone gives it to you, and you're carrying it around, and you go to a store and try to use it," he said.
Investigators say customers at Home Depot and Sam's used counterfeit bills without realizing they were fake.
Here's how you can spot it. Real bills have a hologram, and say security strip. Plus, parts of the fibers are blue.
Inv. Michele Walden says counterfeit bills don't quite match, but they're close. People will wash a smaller bill and then transfer the image of a fifty or hundred.
"In the past several months it's been pretty...substantial," she said.
Inv. Walden says better printers and scanners make more believable fakes...so general managers like Jim Saul need to watch out.
Investigators say the money could come from anywhere, and it's hard to catch the people making it.
They were able to catch two women, Chamaine Smith and April Howell, and charge them with forgery.
They're accused of bringing fake money from the Atlanta area and trying to use it here.