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Check Your Cash. It Could Be Fake...

Ravenous Wolf

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Check Your Cash. It Could Be Fake.

LAST UPDATE: 11/23/2005 8:17:51 PM

This story is available on your cell phone at mobile.woai.com.

The cash in your wallet could be phony money. Federal agents are warning shoppers to be on the lookout for counterfeit cash as the big holiday shopping season kicks off this weekend.

The Federal Reserve began issuing new $20, $50, and $100 earlier this year. The FED is trying to beat counterfeiters who are coming up with new ways to print money, now that home computers and color printers have made it easier.

This time last year, fake money showed up at a Church’s Chicken on the west side of San Antonio.

“A customer had brought it back saying that the counterfeit bill was given to her,” Franciseo Megallanez with Church’s Chicken.

Joanne Valero was also duped when she was given a $100 bill that was really a $10.

“I just kinda let my guard down,” says Valero. “So that's what happened.”

Secret Service Agent Jim McGettian tells News 4 WOAI the seasonal sightings of counterfeit cash are no accident.

“The months from November to the end of January are our highest spikes in the passing of counterfeit currency,” says McGettian.

The Secret Service says this is because so much money is changing hands during the shopping season; it’s easier for the fake stuff to blend right in. While some think counterfeiting is a ‘victimless crime,’ it’s not; the person left holding the cash last, loses.

“The person who has the bill at the end, the merchant, the person, the store owner, they're the victims,” says McGettian. “They take the financial loss.”

Martha Pavlick knows all about being a victim of a ‘victimless crime.’ After her bank mistakenly passed her a phony $100 bill, police confiscated it. Pavlick felt cheated and very upset.

“I mean that's taking money out of our pocket,” she tells News 4 WOAI. “My husband worked very hard for this money and all of a sudden we don't have it.”

The best way to protect yourself is to know your money. There are markings on the new bills that can only be seen when they’re held to the light. Learn the markings and it will be easier to catch the crooks.

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A money marker costs about $5.00 and is a very good investment.

I think I want to buy one of those markers...

One of these days, I want to use it on cashiers who give me back money...

I wonder how effective they really are. The biggest trick is that some people use "real" money but that change the demonination hoping that the person doesn't notice. The marker wouldn't work because it is real...

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