Fake $100 bills are popping up around Northeast Florida and passing the ‘pen test’

Counterfeit, but very convincing, $100 bills are popping up across Northeast Florida. News4Jax's Lauren Verno spoke to one small business that was hit with the scam.

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Fake $100 bills are popping up across Northeast Florida.

The counterfeit money is so real looking, even banks are having trouble spotting them.

A business News4Jax spoke to on Monday that received one of the fake bills was in Clay County, but there have been reports of the same bills showing up in St. Johns County and all the way down to The Villages.

With a store covered wall to wall in pink, crime is not usually a word associated with the Woof Gang Bakery and Grooming Fleming Island store.

But last Wednesday, the dog boutique became the victim of a real crime when a supposed customer passed off a fake $100 bill.

“We both looked at it and we thought it was real. It passed the pen test, we thought it was real, we took it to the bank, the bank looked at it and they said no, I think it’s real. And then they scanned it and it was counterfeit,” Hardin said.

Hardin says the man used the fake money to buy a $15 bag of dog food and walked away with $85 in real cash.

After the fake bill passed the pen test, the owner decided to upgrade her technology.

Hardin’s business was not the only one targeted.

A picture Hardin gave News4Jax from a surveillance video of the man who used the counterfeit mone appears to match another picture that was captured the next day at a Woof Gang Bakery in The Villages.

And on the same day in St. Johns County, the owner of the Lemon Twist in the Sawgrass Villages filed a report of counterfeit money claiming the man used an older style $100 bill, the same kind of bill used in each of these cases.

“You know, it’s kind of disgusting to know because he’s targeting small businesses,” Hardin said.

And Hardin’s business already took major financial hits during the pandemic.

So while $100 may not seem like a lot of money for a business, when you’re a small business during a pandemic, every dollar counts.