SHERWOOD, Ark. - Some businesses in Central Arkansas are getting robbed right in front of their eyes.
Every year, counterfeit cash costs the U.S. millions... and counting.
Small businesses can be hit the hardest by bogus bucks, like a cash-only shop in Sherwood.
The Southern Sleet Snowcones stand sells treats for a couple of bucks at most. But when someone paid with a 20 dollar bill, the owner didn't think twice... until he went to deposit it in the bank. Now, it's in the hands of Federal investigators.
Jason Smith bought the stand back in July.
"We're a small business, just starting," he says.
He didn't go into business to make a fortune but he never imagined falling victim to a con game.
"Everything showed fine until we got to the bank," he recalls.
Despite using a marker to check the 20 dollar bill, they still got duped. It turns out it only shows if the paper is real..not the value.
"The only problem is what they're doing now is I'll take a dollar bill, they wash that to where it's almost too clean a piece of paper and then they'll print a 10, 20, 50 or $100 emblem on it," explains Sgt. Keith Wilson with the Sherwood Police Department.
Sgt. Wilson says they've seen three recent cases so far.
"What we believe is most anybody will check a $100 bill but it's not as common to check a 10 or 20, so that's what they're trying to pass right now," he adds.
Sgt. Wilson says the best way to protect yourself is to hold the bills up to light and look for features that are hard to reproduce.
"One of the easy things is they all have a stripping on them and like in the $20 bill that little strip on the left-hand side it will have the word 20 on it," he continues.
And Smith is taking it a step further, now investing in a new machine that can better detect the fraudulent funds.
"Who would've ever thought owning a snowcone stand you'd need a counterfeit machine," he says.
And he hopes others who handle cash will take note so they're not out more money than he is.
"It's $29 well spent. You know it's an added cost but at the end of the day, if we have a reoccurring problem it's going to cost us more in the long run," says Smith.
The fake money was handed over to the police and the Secret Service will handle the investigation.
HOW TO DETECT COUNTERFEIT CASH:
The three ways to check a counterfeit $20 (according to Sherwood Police and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) is:
1: A genuine $20 has an embedded security thread which reads "TWENTY USA" down the left side of the bill when held up to the light.
2. A genuine $20 has a security watermark of Jackson on the right side when held up to the light.
3. A genuine $20 has copper and green color shifting ink on the lower right hand corner.
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