PBC businesses trying to stay ahead of counterfeiters

Difficult to stay ahead of fake money technology

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Michael Coggins, Manager at Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Palm Beach Gardens, says fake bills have slipped right through his employees' fingers.

"If you accidentally accept a fake bill at any business, that money is lost money," he said. "Any counterfeit money that gets through, we lose that."

Next door at the Subway sandwich shop on PGA Boulevard, there are signs that scammers have succeeded there as well.

Customers may be asked to slip their bills through a scanner to decipher what the bill is worth; if it is real.

Manager Victor Garcia also conducts a pen test on suspect bills or even just takes a closer look - anything to stay ahead of the real problems that come from fake bills.

"Some of them are amazing," said Garcia. "You can't even tell the difference," he said.

He is among a growing number of businesses trying to be proactive to avoid becoming a victim.

The U.S. Secret Service says South Florida is one of the leaders in trafficking fake cash.

Former CIA agent Brad Robinson, who now heads up The Millennium Group firm in West Palm Beach , says investigating counterfeiting cases may not happen enough.

Robinson says there may be too many cases - some too small - to investigate.

"Now, if you own a computer and you have an inkjet printer, you are in the counterfeiting business," Robinson said. That leaves prevention and protection up to businesses and their scam-savvy staffers.

If you think you been given a counterfeit bill, you can call the U.S. Secret Service's 24-hour hotline at 305-863-5050.

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