Secret Service investigates use of counterfeit bills in Olathe

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OLATHE, Kan. -- Cold hard cash is changing hands in Olathe, the only problem, it's fake. And now the U.S. Secret Service is warning local businesses to be on the lookout for counterfeit bills. According to the agency, this time of year their workload doubles.

In Olathe, the Target near 119th and Block Bob Road reported two incidents of customers using counterfeit money in December.

Another business has experienced the high cost of accepting counterfeit money. Tea Drops in Westport makes its living off loyal customers buying drinks at less than five bucks a pop.

"Every day is hard to make ends meet, or it's a struggle just to make sure we get to the breakeven point," said Halliday Bertram, store manager.

So when a criminal walked in October 2012 and paid for a drink with a fake 100 dollar bill, Tea Drops took a big hit.

"A loss like that puts us back like a week," Bertram said. "It really puts us in the red."

It's the bank that caught the clerk's error and Bertram said from that moment on the store has measures in place to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"We have the pen now that you can flash on it and see the bar that counterfeiters don't have and the pen to mark it," Bertram said.

Jeff Rinehart, assistant to the special agent in charge for the U.S. Secret Service, said in the last two months alone more than $60,000 in fake currency has passed through the hands of Kansas City businesses.

"It's not a victimless crime," he said. "Someone is going to have to take the hit for it whenever you take the counterfeit bill."

But the criminals are getting quicker.

"With the last re-design of the hundred, they were hitting the same day," Rinehart said.

With new color shifting ink, holograms and security tabs in different locations -- the US Treasury Department is making the duplication process even harder.

"So when it's under a UV light it's very easy to see that it glows," Rinehart said.

In total the Secret Service said they've worked 56 counterfeit cases in Kansas City this year.  In 22 of those cases local police departments had someone in custody right away.
That's often thanks to an attentive clerk.

Olathe police are still reviewing surveillance video in the counterfeit cases Target this past week.

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