Business owners in Greenwich Village are seeing a spike in counterfeit cash and at least one has taken steps to electronically examine its customers' money, NBC New York has learned.
Troy Peterson, who works at an ice cream shop that has seen fake $20s and $100s in recent months, now has the tools of a banker to help detect it.
The store uses an electronic scanner.
"It scans the money for specific identifiers,” Peterson said.
Several stores along the Bleecker Street strip have been duped by the bills. One restaurant lost a few hundred dollars in one day, Peterson said.
"Some of the money is so bad it's just obvious. We once got a $100 bill with Roosevelt on it,” said Peterson.
Counterfeiters primarily use large fake bills to buy cheap items. They hand over the fake money to the store and walk away with real cash in their pockets.
So how do you spot a fake without using an expensive detector?
“You want to look for texture. The writing should be lifted,” said Andrew Sulner, a forensic document examiner. “You want to hold it up to the light and look for a hologram."
As the quality of computer printers has improved, so has the quality of the frauds, Sulner said.
The duds are printed on normal paper or on bleached $1 bills. In either case, if you can’t see a security strip when holding a $10, $20, $50 or $100 up to the light, it’s likely a fake.
The Secret Service, which investigates counterfeit currency, wouldn't comment on the exact number of cases in the city or speculate on the cause for the Bleecker Street spike.
AccuBanker, the company behind detectors like the one in the ice cream shop, says it's seen a significant jump in national sales since last year.
Shops on Bleecker say they won’t be taking money at face value again.
"We can’t afford hits like this,” said Peterson.