RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – For the second time since January, a customer says they got a counterfeit bill from Sun Trust Bank. Sun Trust hasn't confirmed whether the fake bill came from one of its branches but, the bank did take action.
Banks are suppose to know how to spot counterfeit cash so, what's going on? I reached out to Sun Trust and the Secret Service. Here's what customer 'number two' says happened.
If it was real, Bailey Dowdy's wife could be imprisoned for cutting U.S. currency. But it's a fake Benjamin, cut in half so he wouldn't inadvertently pick it up and spend it. So, how long has he kept the counterfeit?
DOWDY: "It's probably been 10 or 12 months."
DIANE: "That long!"
DIANE: "And you're walking around with this?"
DOWDY: "I just laid it on my dresser. It was a conversation piece."
Dowdy says Sun Trust, Williamsburg Road passed him the funny money, last year, while cashing a check.
"Once it was brought to my attention, yes the paper does in fact feel differently. It does have some bleeding, fading. Somebody even wrote on it to make it look like an old bill that's been in circulation," he said.
Another bank, Citizens and Farmers discovered the fake during a deposit. Dowdy went back to Sun Trust many times for reimbursement but was turned him away.
"I'm out a hundred bucks. There's nothing I can do about it. They refused to do anything. That's when I saw your story about somebody getting a counterfeit bill from a Sun Trust bank," Dowdy explained.
"It's not right. I get a social security check. I can't afford to lose a hundred dollars," Mary Johnson said. Sun Trust initially refused but, reconsidered and replaced the bogus bill Mary Johnson got New Year's Eve, at a West Broad Street branch. But, the bank's response to this second complaint is strange.
Dowdy had complained about the counterfeit bill he got months before the first complaint became public. But, it wasn't until the day before this interview, that Sun Trust asked Dowdy to bring in both halves and they would replace it with new money.
"I can only assume, somebody wants that bill to possibly compare it to another one," Dowdy said.
Sun Trust declined an interview and reiterated the response it made to the first counterfeit complaint. "Our frontline teammates are trained in identifying counterfeit money and we make every effort to work with law enforcement on these issues. While we typically don't exchange bill that have been out of our possession for an extended period of time since we have no way of knowing if it is the same bill we provided ....We have chosen to make an exception in this particular instance."
Dowdy returned to Sun Trust and walked out about 40 minutes later with a real one hundred dollar bill.
DAINE: "Show us the money. You got it."
DOWDY: "That looks like the real thing. For sure."
Usually banks are indifferent and just let the customer take the loss. But twice now, Sun Trust has replaced the phony money with real cash.
I alerted the Secret Service. Meantime, if a business passes phony money to you, call 12 and tell us about it, then call the Secret Service at 804-592-3086.You can also visit the Secret Service website for tips on how to spot a fake.