Businesses: More counterfeit bills during holidays

YAKIMA, Wash. -- You could have counterfeit money in your wallet and not even know it. It's a real problem here in Yakima County. Businesses told KIMA they see more fake cash around the holidays.

Money goes back and forth every day at the Arco gas station. Tens, twenties and hundreds all pour in daily. These employees know they have to pay attention.

"Is it easy to spot counterfeit bills or no?" KIMA asked.
"No," said store manager Shawn Laframboise.

"What's scary is now they're smaller bills," said store owner Hani Salha. "It's like ones, fives, tens. They're going for smaller amounts, which are not very noticeable."

Shawn Laframboise manages an Arco gas station in Yakima. She said her employees are trained to spot fake money.

"The really, really good ones feel just like a bill, look like a bill and that's when you have to use two or three methods to find it," said Shawn.

"I'll look for the double-sided sides," said Hani. "The water marks also. I'll lick my fingertips and rub the bill to see if any ink or anything comes off the bill."

Counterfeiting is no stranger to Yakima County. Last year, the Secret Service seized bogus bills totaling almost $9,000. Agents collected more than $5,000 so far this year.

They told KIMA if you pass on a counterfeit bill, but don't know it's fake, you won't get in trouble. The Secret Service will still investigate to make sure you don't have a history with it. If you think you wound up with fake cash, take it to a bank or call the Secret Service.

"More word of mouth people know we're turning them into the police, that we know how to check them and that we're not going to put up with that," said Shawn.

Counterfeiters are felons. If they get caught, they're staring at time in federal prison.

Yakima County's problem with counterfeiting is considered low compared to the rest of the state.