MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The Secret Service is investigating a series of counterfeit bills used at local stores in Mobile.
Special Agent Joseph Paul said during the summer fake bills pop up more often. Local businesses have experienced this first hand.
Four fake $20 bills passed through Gulf City Cleaners a few weeks ago. It was a first for owner Tres Burger.
"Somebody came in with a $20 asking for change, and the lady working the counter made change for her. And then she realized when they got in the car there were men in the car, and they drive off. So she checked the bill, and it was counterfeit," said Burger.
Burger has all of his employees check bills with counterfeit pens. This is how the employee discovered it was a fake.
"With a good bill, it turns brown. With a counterfeit bill, it turns black," said Burger.
Burger soon found he was not alone. Just down the street Michael Blankenship at Blakenship's Universal Supply, Inc. encountered fake bills around the same time.
"When we made our deposit the bank discovered that six of the bills were counterfeit," said Blankenship.
Blankenship also used the counterfeit detection pen, but on his bills they marked like the real thing.
"They were light brown and stayed that way," said Blankenship.
Paul said the bills that passed through Blankenship's store are called bleach notes.
"They'll take a genuine $5 bill, bleach the ink off and reprint a $100 bill on top of that," said Paul.
In Blankenship's case, they were $10s and $20s.
Now with more information, Blankenship takes precaution with all the cash that comes in.
"We've learned how to detect them now by looking to see that the encrypted stripe is in each bill, and you can also look at the denomination detector on the bill," said Blankenship.
Burger has upgraded his counterfeit pens. He now uses a pen with an ultraviolet light.
Neither business has seen fake bills since and thinks their extra measures have something to do with it.
Paul said businesses need to be on the look out.
"We encourage businesses to look for the added security features that are on the bill and the security thread. The portrait and the watermark should match, and then when you hold the bill up to the light, the security thread should read USA and it should match the denomination of the bill," said Paul.
If you encounter any fake bills, contact local police.
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