SPOKANE, Wash. — The next time you receive change, you may want to double check to see if the bills are real.
Some Spokane residents are reporting counterfeit money circulating in the area.
Lonnie James tells KREM 2, he bought some items at Harbor Freight, received change from the cashier and didn't suspect anything. It wasn't until he tried buying something at Goodwill where the cashier at that store told him his $20 bill wasn't real.
Spokane police said they don't see a lot of counterfeit money very often, but when they do it raises red flags.
"But when it does show up, it shows up numerous times," Officer John O'Brien explained.
Police say criminals are becoming so advanced it can be hard to tell what's legit. O'Brien said you should look at the security features such as the watermark, and the security strip. Counterfeit detection pens are not always accurate and could give false results.
"Check the weight of the bill, the feel of it, the color, if it doesn't feel right, have the person get a smaller denomination and come back and give it to you," O'Brien said.
It's not only in stores, where fake money is popping up. Another person reported someone asking people outside of 7-Eleven on Division to break a $20, a person gave them two $10 and were left with a fake $20. We asked a supervisor at the store, he said he was unaware this was going on outside, but in store they check all large bills.
This is also happening at yard sales, people using large fake bills on small purchases and walking away with much more than a bargain.
"So not only do they lose their item but they lose a lot of their profits they're trying to make," O'Brien said.
Unfortunately, it's unlikely James will get his $20 back, it's why he wants to warn others to take a second look at your change.
According to the Federal Reserve, a counterfeit bill cannot be exchanged for a real one, and it is illegal to knowingly pass counterfeit currency.
The Federal Reserve recommends trying to remember the physical characteristics of the person who gave the counterfeit, and if possible write down the person's license plate number and vehicle description. You should also keep the fake away from legitimate cash and give it to law enforcement as soon as possible.
If you end up with a fake in your wallet, Spokane police say you should report it to Crime Check (509) 456-2233. Officers will process the counterfeit bill and the secret service will investigate.