Updated 10/31/2012 07:36 PM
Albemarle police looking for source of counterfeit money
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ALBEMARLE -- Counterfeit money is circulating through some Albemarle businesses.
Police said they've had more reports of fake $20, $50 and $100 bills. Many of the people trying to use the money aren't even aware it may be counterfeit.
While police are looking for the source, business owners said they're on high alert.
Sita Bhatt is the owner and manager of Friendly Mart in Albemarle. She happened to be filling in for a cashier last Tuesday, when she said she came across a rare, but startling occurrence.
"As soon as he handed me the bill, I asked him to wait because it didn't feel real," said Bhatt.
A customer who wanted $40 worth of gas handed over a $50 bill. Bhatt said she knew immediately the bill was counterfeit.
"It was looking like washed out bill," said Bhatt.
That customer didn't know the bill was fake. Police said it's just one instance in a string of about a dozen counterfeit reports over the last two months.
"$20 dollar bills, $50 bills and $100 bills that we're seeing at this time," said Capt. David Dulin with the Albemarle Police Department. He said it's happening at small businesses as well as corporate chains.
The Walmart on Leonard Avenue has reported four instances of counterfeit bills being used here in just the last two weeks.
"We are in contact with the Secret Service. We are working with them on this matter," said Dulin.
Dulin says at least $1,000 in fake money has been reported so far. Police believe in some cases the money was given as change to unsuspecting customers.
"Anyone can get that bill," said Bhatt.
Bhatt said she and her staff are on high alert for fake bills and hopes her customers are too.
Albemarle Police are urging anyone who thinks they may have received counterfeit cash, or has information on where it's being made to contact them immediately at 704-984-9500.