12/19/2014

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Counterfeit Bills: An issue in Yakima County?

Counterfeit Bills: An issue in Yakima County?
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Employees at a 1st Street gas station have an unusual display behind the counter: counterfeit fives, tens and hundred dollar bills taped to a wall.

"A couple of nights ago, on a graveyard shift, someone came in and tried to pass off fives," said Yakima store manager Shawn Laframboise. "We don't see a lot of fives, but just said these are fake."

It wasn't hard finding stores around town that have had run-ins with counterfeiters. Gas stations seem to get hit the hardest.

These criminals wait until stores are slammed with customers, and then try their luck.

The feds say most counterfeit money in Yakima tends to be lower quality. Some people go the extra mile and take a real dollar bill, completely wash it clear with bleach then counterfeit over it so the bill at least passes the ink test.

Yakima police say they deal with it on a case by case basis and don't actively investigate counterfeiting.

"We'll respond. We'll take a report,” said Yakima Police Captain Rod Light. “We'll take it as evidence and generally it's transferred up to the secret service for an additional follow up."

KIMA took it a step further and brought your questions to the Secret Service directly.

We pulled the numbers and learned since May, the Secret Service has collected more than $7,000 worth of fake bills in Yakima County.

Agents say 197 bills have either been seized or passed off as real money; however, it's not considered a huge problem in Yakima.

Because some stores like this one post the money without turning it over, it might be hard to get a clear idea how much is out there.

Clerks around town say the bills come in spurts.

"I will usually write a note up front and keep it posted for the holiday season that they are to check bills frequently and often,” Laframboise said.

The Secret Service says it's also illegal for businesses to post counterfeit money as a warning.

That's because the fake bills are contraband that need to be handed over to law enforcement and not tacked on a wall.
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