Counterfeit cash found in the Cape
A counterfeit bill that was used at a store in Cape Coral earlier this week may be tied to other cases, according to a police report.
On Sunday, Cape police responded to the Starbucks Coffee Company, at 1860 N.E. Pine Island Road. An employee reported that a customer paid for a drink with a counterfeit $20 bill. The employee did not check the bill until after the person had left.
The report states that the officer contacted a detective with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office due to a previous call that the officer had handled regarding counterfeit bills, and the person matching the description of that person. The person allegedly is a suspect in the detective’s investigation.
The detective is a member of the Secret Service Task Force.
“The Secret Service investigates all counterfeit bills,” Jeff Kelly, the resident agent in charge at the Fort Myers field office of the U.S. Secret Service, said. “The task force is made up of state and local agencies.”
According to Kelly, the task force covers the Southwest Florida area and includes six counties. The majority of the cases come out of Lee, Collier and Charlotte, and the office sees up to 5,000 counterfeits passed every five business days.
“We have a couple cases going on right now,” he said.
The LCSO detective could not be reached for comment on the Cape case.
Kelly called the number of reported incidents “the average.”
“We do see an increase over the holidays, mainly Christmas,” he said.
Most counterfeits are identified by a store when the bill is handed over or by a bank, such as when a business drops off a deposit and the bank counts it.
“In the U.S., the bill of choice is counterfeit $20s,” Kelly said.
Outside of the states, counterfeiters prefer the $100 bill.
Kelly urges merchants to take a few seconds and check bills they receive. They should look for the watermark and security strip, which are embedded into genuine currency. The easier targets are businesses focused on getting customers in and out, those that might not take a moment to check a bill.
“It hits all merchants and all businesses,” he said of counterfeit bills. “But the fast-paced businesses, the fast food restaurants, basically, that’s good for the counterfeiter because they’re not going to pay attention.”
Anyone who gets a counterfeit bill should collect as much information as possible on the person who passed it off, including physical description and vehicle and tag number, then call 911 or local law enforcement immediately.