We've all been in a situation where we buy or sell something, a transaction with a stranger, not necessarily in a store. If one person pays someone else $20 for a $5 item, but the $20 is fake, then that person gives $15 in change, the crook just made $15, plus whatever they bought. It's a scam, it's a crime, and it's happening in Colorado Springs.
One woman contacted 11 News after falling victim to that exact situation. Reporter Alyssa Chin held the fake bill and said had it had been given to her, she too may have been fooled. It looked and felt very real.
It’s not until you see the bills in a side-by-side comparison that some of the differences begin to pop out. However, if you have just the fake in your hands, those differences are harder to spot, like the fact that the fake is just slightly shorter than the real one.
Teresa Jaquez and her family were holding a yard sale Sunday, and thought nothing of it when a woman inquired about a lamp. Jaquez asked the woman for $2, received a $20 bill, and gave the woman $18 back in change. The only problem: the $20 was a fake--and the crook had just received $18 in real bills.
"I was busy with another customer and my daughter-in-law...took the $20 from this lady that came and bought the Winnie the Pooh lamp," Jaquez said.
She gave the bill to her husband to buy some groceries. It was the clerk at the store who alerted them to the fact that the bill was fake.
"I started crying. I told my husband that I couldn't believe somebody would do this to us," Jaquez said.
She'd been taken. Jaquez immediately called her family over to check out the phony cash.
"I called over my daughter, and my son-in-law came and looked at it too, and he said 'no mom, it’s counterfeit money'...I'm very upset, I'm just very very upset right now," Jaquez told us.
Her daughter-in-law said she would've never suspected the crook that targeted them.
"The (suspect) was friendly, she didn't look like somebody that was trying to do that, give counterfeit money," Andrea Olvera said.
"It's not right, I don't even know what counterfeit money looks like...now I do, but I don't even want to have another yard sale," Jaquez added.
We want everyone to be able to protect themselves. When looking at a bill, hold it up to some light. Check for a strip that runs vertically on the inside of the bill and a watermark image that matches the portrait.
Another way to check is to buy a counterfeit detector pen. We bought one for just $6. When you mark a bill, the mark should turn yellow or clear. If the mark turns brown or black, that's when you know you're being cheated.
The woman who handed out the bill is described as a Hispanic woman in her mid-to-late 20s with short dark hair. If you have any information about this crime, you're urged to call Crime Stoppers 634-STOP.