Watch what’s in your wallet: There is a rise in counterfeit bills circulating Long Island, police warn.
Just last month Suffolk County cops seized several thousand dollars in fake $20 bills when they busted a major drug ring whose members printed counterfeit cash.
Members of the gang — who went by street names such as “Dog,” “Smell,” and “Yay Yo” — littered the East End with phony cash that eventually popped up in delis, fast-food restaurants and electronic stores, police report.
“We have seen an increase in counterfeit bills being circulated through Nassau County,” Nassau County Det. Michael Bitsko told Metro. “It’s definitely on the rise.”
“We see so many counterfeit bills coming in it’s hard to keep track,” said Marty Gazes, manager of the PC Richards electronic store in Bellmore. “We have an identification bill machine that turns red when a bill is fake. And we’ll just tell the customer ‘We can’t take this bill; do you have another form of payment?’”
Gazes said that many customers are simply unaware they’re handling fake money.
“Sometimes it’s the bank or they got the bills from somewhere else and they don’t even know it’s counterfeit,” he said.
Gazes helped cops and the FBI nab a Freeport man on March 7 when the man returned to his store to receive a $800 cash refund for a purchase he made with six counterfeit $100 bills days earlier.
“I’ve been seeing more counterfeit bills than I want to,” said John Gonzales, store manager of the Mastic Beach Handy Pantry. “There’s a lot of $20s, $50s and $100 bills.”
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