Crime - Sacto 911

Why and where $20 and $100 bills are a concern in El Dorado County

An increase of fake currency, mostly $20 and $100 bills, has been seen in El Dorado County, especially along the Highway 50 corridor the past month, officials said.
An increase of fake currency, mostly $20 and $100 bills, has been seen in El Dorado County, especially along the Highway 50 corridor the past month, officials said.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office is warning retailers about a significant hike in the use of counterfeit money around the county.

Officials could not quantify the increase but has received an unusual number of counterfeit reports along the Highway 50 corridor in the past month, said Sgt. Tasha Thompson, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman. The fake currency is mostly $20 and $100 bills used to buy items or gift cards.

“We’ve had (counterfeit) occurrences throughout the years, here and there, but not to the degree we’re seeing it right now,” said Thompson, who wouldn’t speculate about the reason behind the increase.

Safeway stores in particular seem to be targeted, Thompson said, and many reports of counterfeit have involved people using the bills at self-checkout stations.

“If you are a business owner or work for a retail business, please check the cash that you receive for anything that is unusual,” the Sheriff’s Office urged in a post on its Facebook page. “Many times these counterfeit bills will not feel the same or the color is not exactly correct.”

Those who suspect they have received a fake bill should take note of the potential counterfeiter’s physical appearance and glean whatever other information they can, such as the license plate of the person’s car, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Anyone suspicious about money they’ve been given can call the Sheriff’s Office at 530-621-6600.

Eric Vitale, fraud investigation specialist with the San Luis Obispo Police Department, demonstrates how to spot a card skimmer on an ATM, gas pump or other card reader. He also offers advice for keeping your PIN and card information safe.

Hannah Knowles: 916-321-1141, @KnowlesHannah

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