Bakersfield shop warns of counterfeit cash

Bakersfield shop warns of counterfeit cash »Play Video
Nicole Bianco, manager of Bakersfield boutique Spoiled Rotten, is seen Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2012, in her Rosedale shop. Bianco described her encounter with counterfeit cash.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Millions of fake dollars make their way into American hands every year, according to the United States Secret Service, which handles counterfeit money cases.

Kern County sheriff’s detectives said counterfeit cash was used at a Bakersfield boutique called Spoiled Rotten last Saturday. Police said there have been multiple reports of fake bills lately.

Store manager Nicole Bianco said a blond woman came into the store in the early afternoon.

"I was a little suspicious, but since it passed the pen test, I didn't really know what to say back to her in the moment, so I let her carry on with it,” Bianco said. “I gave her back the change, and then it came across that it was fake."

The store’s surveillance video caught the suspect on camera. The store manager said she drove away in a green GMC truck with an extended cab.

The store lost $100 in that transaction. The manager said the store will be upgrading from a counterfeit detector pen to a UV light detector.

The fake $100 bill passed the counterfeit detector pen test, but all the pen does is test for the presence of starch in the paper, something authorities say can easily be faked. What finally tipped the manager off was the texture of the bill.

"The paper felt waxy. It didn't feel like a real hundred dollar bill,” said Bianco. “The back of it looked like she had wet it, but the face was outlined perfectly.”

Police want you to keep an eye on your money, especially your change. If store employees do not notice the fake bills, the funny money could be passed on to you.

If you receive counterfeit money, here are some tips from the Secret Service:

• Do not return it to the passer

• Delay the passer if possible

• Remember the passer's description and his or her license plate number

• Contact the police and U.S. Secret Service field office

• Write your initials and the date in the white border areas of the suspect note

• Limit the handling of the note. Carefully place it in a protective covering, such as an envelope

• Surrender the note or coin only to a properly identified police officer or a U.S. Secret Service special agent

The punishment for making fake money is a fine and/or prison for up to 15 years.

Anyone with information helpful to the Bakersfield boutique case is asked to call the sheriff's office at (661) 861-3110.