Secret Service Has Tips On How You Can Avoid Being Played

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — New Yorkers are being warned of a new kind of counterfeit cash.

It’s harder to spot, because the criminals start with the real thing before changing the bills’ value.

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They look real and feel real, but these $100 bills are bogus. Turned in over the past month by bank managers, merchants and members of the public all over the city has been thousands of dollars — all counterfeit.

Rozzi, the Owner of “All in a Nutshell” sweet shop, got a bitter lesson in funny money from a man who selected a small amount of candy before presenting the big bill.

“I was taken,” Rozzi told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin. “I looked at it like this and like that, like that.”

After Rozzi was given the $100 bill she did what she always does; she ran the pen test and it passed.

The people producing these fakes start with real $5 bills. They’re then bleached white before fake 100s are printed right over them. That’s easy enough for someone with a little bit of know-how, the right chemicals, a toothbrush and laser printer.

“That’s where makes our job difficult. This will be done in someone’s room,” said Todd Madison of the U.S. Secret Service.

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Madison said these fakes are actually easy to spot.

“Don’t always rely on the pen. Look for other things,” he said.

Madison said look at the watermark. A $5 bill has Lincoln’s portrait or the word “Five.”

“There is a problem if they don’t match,” Madison said.

Madison said to also check for this security thread. It will also say “Five.”

And for merchants like Rozzi, learn when to say no to a purchase with too big a bill.

“That should cause alarm if someone comes in with a $100 bill to buy a pack of gum,” Madison said.

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He said really knowing your money can turn the tables on the tricksters.