Counterfeit cash turning up at Lake City businesses

13 cases of phoney bills being passed in past 10 days

LAKE CITY, Fla. – After counterfeit bills began showing up at area businesses, Lake City police are warning people to be on the lookout for "funny money."

Since July 15, police have investigated 13 reports of counterfeit currency.

In the first case, a clerk from the S&S Food Store on N. Marion Avenue reported a man presented a $50 bill for a $3 item during a busy time in the store. The clerk gave the customer $47 change and he left the store. After business slowed down, the clerk discovered it was a counterfeit $50 bill he used.

Other Lake City stores that have reported seeing counterfeit cash include the Family Dollar, two CVS locations, McDonald's, Save-A-Lot and the Best Western Inn.

"They were either attempted to use and they were refused and then the money was kept or the money was taken during a rush in the store and then the cashier found it later," said Craig Strickland, assistant public information officer for Lake City police.

Police have recovered 28 fake bills in the last two weeks totaling more than $660. "The bills we're recovering are 5s, 20s and 50s," Strickland said.

The most recent cases were reported Thursday at Winn Dixie and also at Federal Bank, where counterfeit money was found in the banks teller.

Investigators cannot confirm whether or not the cases are related but they have three descriptions of people who used, or tried to use the fake cash.

Local Secret Service agents say they have not seen a significant up rise in the Jacksonville area lately, but that it's typical for a group of people involved with the drug trade to come in periodically and pass counterfeit money at multiple places.

The Jacksonville field office, which covers Daytona Beach and Ocala and north to Live Oak, says about $10,000 to $13,000 in counterfeit money is turned over to them every week.

Sgt. Paul Kash with Lake City police recommends businesses urge their employees to triple check any cash they are given and to call police if anything seems suspicious.