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Kalamazoo County officials warn of circulating counterfeit bills

Counterfeit 20 vs real.jpg
Picture of fake $20 vs real $20 that was passed in Kalamazoo county. (WWMT/ Courtesy Megan Buwalda)

Kalamazoo officials is urging people to check your money, because someone has been circulating counterfeit cash in Kalamazoo County.

Tom Holmer, an owner of Rocket Fizz candy store in Kalamazoo, said local businesses take the biggest hit when fake money is in the community.

“We had a fake 20 pass here. Looked good on the front, but by the time they flipped it over the customer was out the door, “said Holmer.

Holmer and his wife have owned their business for almost two years and he said he has seen all sorts of people coming through the doors, from babies to the elderly, all look to ease the cravings of their sweet tooth.

They also get people looking to pull a fast scam on local businesses.

“It’s hard because we just take the loss. Not only do we lose the products we lost, but the change we gave out. We're family owned. This is our life savings on the line here and I would prefer people wouldn’t do that,” Holmer said.

Holmer said while the counterfeit-detector pen may work on some bills, but he believes in training his employees to check money the old fashioned way.

“When they get a $50 or $100 bill is to look for the ghost. When you hold it up you can sort of see a ghost image of Franklin or Grant,” said Holmer.

The ghost image is known as a watermark and Holmer said a way to be sure is to check for the ridges on the collars of the Franklin or Grant.

He said it is usually too expensive for counterfeiters to make a replica of the ridges.

“If you are taking in a volume of currency you should probably be running it through a scanner to make sure it's good,” Kalamazoo County Treasurer Mary Balkema said.

Balkema said someone recently tried to make a payment with a fake $20 bill at a Kalamazoo County court.

She said this is the time to be vigilant.

If you think your money maybe fake you can take it to your bank to check it, but they will not replace the fake money with real money.

The counterfeit money is turned over to the Federal Reserve to be destroyed.