NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A consumer alert has been issued for business owners and shoppers, because it could be prime time for criminals passing counterfeit money around with the Super Bowl in the area this weekend.

As CBS 2’s Don Champion reported Thursday night, the Secret Service said counterfeiting rings have been pumping and circulating millions of dollars’ worth of counterfeit bills into New York City for years.

But with such a tourist-attracting event this weekend, the Secret Service warned that it could be open season for such criminals.

Authorities showed a sample of one of the fake $100 bills that has been passed around. At first glance, it looks real, but authorities said the serial numbers prove it is fake.

More proof that the bill is fake appears on the back, bottom right-hand corner, where the number 77 is printed above the $100 symbol. The number should not be there.

With so many tourists in town this weekend, crooks can easily pass the fake bills in stores, authorities said.

One vendor who spoke to CBS 2 said he is always on the lookout for counterfeit money.

“It’s a lot of people – money comes in and out, in and out. What are you going to do? You know? You just have to try to do your best and be as vigilant as possible,” said vendor David James.

Meanwhile, experts said it is hard tracking down sophisticated counterfeiting rings that are often based overseas.

“It’s a very difficult task. We have to constantly be on them. We are already developing the next bill, because they are already trying to counter our latest bill with the blue strip that’s very difficult to counterfeit, but again, we have to continuously keep a couple of steps ahead of the counterfeiters,” said Manny Gomez of MG Security Services.

The federal government has printed new $100, $50 and $20 bills that are harder to counterfeit. But all of the older bills are still legal tender, and thus, authorities said the criminals are trying to take advantage.

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories

Watch & Listen LIVE