Woman calls about counterfeit bill

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – 12 on Your Side looked into an unsettling complaint about counterfeit cash at a bank. A senior citizen says Sun Trust Bank passed phony money to her and now, she's stuck with a loss, she can't afford.

Where the fake money originated is anybody's guess but usually, whoever has the fake money last takes the hit. Mary Johnson wasn't having it. She called a half dozen places -- the S.C.C., the B.B.B. -- the Comptroller of Currency, and then, she called 12 and got help.

"I was so excited. I was yelling. I was crying. I knew they were going to call the cops on me," Mary said.

Mary Johnson called the cops herself. Four officers showed up at Sun Trust Bank 1801 West Broad.   Mary says she withdrew $800 from Sun Trust and discovered a fake hundred dollar bill when she tried to make a deposit at another bank, Wells Fargo.

"She said, 'Ms Johnson, we only can deposit $700.' I said 'What are you talking about?' She said 'because one of your bills a counterfeit,'" Mary told us.

Wells Fargo should have kept the fake bill but, Johnson talked them into giving the bogus bill back and she returned to Sun Trust and confronted the teller who handled her transaction.

"I said, 'Honey you gave me a $100 counterfeit bill.' 'No I did not.' I said 'Honey, where did I get it from?' She said, 'I didn't give it to you,'" Mary explained. "I was crying because I was losing a hundred dollars. So, the manager came over. He said it could have happened at Wells Fargo when she counted the money, she might have had some more money laying up there and it was a counterfeit hundred dollar bill that got mixed in with yours. I don't believe that. I put my life on it that it was Sun Trust because I hadn't been anywhere."

Sun Trust would not replace the bad bill but later gave Mary a receipt that said they mailed it to the Secret Service. That's what businesses are required to do with counterfeit bills.

"It's not right. I get a social security check. I can't afford to lose a hundred dollars," Mary said.

We called Sun Trust and the Secret Service and was told, they have no record of the transaction. The Secret Service is now following up, and Sun Trust declined my request for an interview but issued a statement this afternoon that says, "Our frontline teammates are trained in identifying counterfeit money and we make every effort to work with law enforcement on these issues. We typically don't exchange bills ... But have chosen to make an exception in this instance, and will make our client whole."

If a business or someone passes phony money to you call 12 and tell us about it, and then call the Secret Service at 804-592-3086. You can also visit their website at secretservice.gov for tips on how to spot a fake.

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