LAKE CITY, Fla. – Five more incidents of counterfeit currency were reported to the Lake City Police Department on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases to 15 since July 15.
A total of $1,250 in fake currency and 41 total counterfeit bills have been passed off to businesses.
The first report came Thursday morning from the First Federal Administrative Offices on U.S. Highway 90 West stating it had five fake $20 bills in its possession from both the Lake City and Live Oak branches, police said.
Investigators said the bills were detected by the office's counting machines and will be turned over directly to the U.S. Department of Treasury.
Shortly before noon Thursday, Winn-Dixie at 800 S. Marion St. reported it had three counterfeit $20 bills in its cash till, police said.
Police said there is no known suspect at this time, and the bills were turned over to investigators as part of the continuing investigation.
At about 2:20 p.m. Thursday, Walmart at 2767 W. U.S. 90 called to report 10 counterfeit $50 bills were part of a single transaction that took place Sunday at about 6 p.m., police said. Investigators said a black man wearing black shoes, black shorts and an orange T-shirt bought a case of Ensure with a $20 bill and then used the counterfeit $50 bills to purchase a $500 Walmart gift card.
The man is described as about 5 feet 9 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall with a muscular build, shaved head and a goatee. He was last seen leaving the store into the parking lot and getting into a newer model, white four-door Nissan that was circling in the parking lot during the transaction driven by another person.
Police said the man acted nervous during the entire transaction and kept checking over his shoulder as he left the store and when approaching the vehicle.
Thursday evening, Dominos Pizza at 2372 W. U.S. 90 reported that on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, two separate deliveries were made to the Cedar Park Apartment complex and payments were made with counterfeit cash. On Wednesday, a delivery was made and payment was tendered with two counterfeit $20 bills, police said. And on Thursday, payment was given for an order with one counterfeit $50 bill, police said.
The Lake City/Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and police are urging all business owners to take a few basic steps in safeguarding against being a victim of counterfeit cash by the following:
1) Feel the bill for texture -- currency is a mixture of paper and fabric.
2) Hold the bill up to the light and look for the watermarks/holograms.
3) Look for and at the security strips -- should read "USA FIVE," "USA TEN," etc., and match what's printed on the front.
4) Buy and use a counterfeit ID marker (amber in color = safe / dark brown-black = suspect)
For more information, businesses and consumers are encouraged to visit, www.secretservice.gov/money_detect.shtml or www.wikihow.com/Detect-Counterfeit-US-Money for helpful tips and photos on how to easily detect counterfeit currency.
The Lake City Police Department is asking anyone who may have information about these counterfeit bills to contact Sgt. Investigator Paul Kash at 386-758-5422.