RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Keep a close eye out for counterfeit cash. That's the message from the Richmond branch of the U.S. Secret Service office. Agents say it's this time of year when there's an increased opportunity for bogus bills to exchange hands.
The higher the bill the more likely it is to be counterfeit. Agents say it's up to you to keep a watchful eye to ensure you're not getting shortchanged. Its advice Ron Fix abides by year round but more so during the holiday season.
"During this season business picks up a bit - you might be tempted to get through the line but you always got to pay attention," said Fix, a cashier for Plan 9.
Fix uses a special pen to examine the authenticity of bills that come across his counter.
"If it comes out that color it's good if it comes out another color it's not good," said Fix.
A customer tried to pass a fake 20 dollar bill at his store but was caught.
"When you look at it its pretty measly paper and not in center," said Fix.
As shoppers continue to flock to stores to buy those last minute gifts -- so do crafty criminals trying to pass counterfeit money.
Richmond Secret Service agent Andrew Harris says, you need to pay close attention to the cash you're receiving and giving to ensure you're getting the real deal. Not paying attention could cost you -- big time. The person left holding the bill is stuck with the loss.
"There's nothing in place that the U.S. or bank is obligated to reimburse you," said Harris.
There are several simple ways to see if a bill is real or fake.
"Hold the note up to the light there will be a watermark portrait that watermark on the paper--you'll be able to see it has the same picture as in the potato," said Harris.
A genuine portrait has detail. A fake is usually blurry. The serial numbers should be bold and the same color as the treasury seal. Also, real cash has tiny red and blue fibers embedded in the paper.
Tips shoppers say are good to know. If you come across a fake bill you're asked to turn it over to police.