Counterfeit Money in Claycord – Beware!

February 11, 2014 15:15 pm · 37 comments


Beware of counterfeit bills making the rounds through our local cities.

Here’s a story from a victim who recently received a fake $50 bill….

Last Saturday night a few minutes before 9:00 PM, I went to Shell Gas Station on Contra Costa Blvd. in Pleasant Hill. I broke a $100 bill and only put $35 in gas. They handed me back 3 bills which were a $5, $10, and a $50 bill. The next day, I went to a local 7-Eleven and the cashier told me that the bill was fake.

I was appalled when they told me because it looked real and I had never received a fake bill before.

I thought I would share my story in hopes it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

The victim says Shell wouldn’t take responsibility for giving her the bill, but the police were notified.

Always check your larger bills before you leave the store.

Click HERE for some good tips on how to spot counterfeit money.

Ruby Tuesday February 11, 2014 at 3:28 PM

I was shopping at Safeway in PH and the clerk accused me of having a “fake $20.00 bill.” It was wet, and she took it to the back, etc. Safeway stuck up for me. One guy told me “try working with her.” I took the bill back and used my debit card. (I used the bill elsewhere, and it was fine).

When I got home, I was curious about “liability” if I ever did have fake bills by mistake. So I called the PHPD. An officer told me if I’d had several bills, it would be an issue if the bills were fake. He agreed the clerk overreacted, but I needed to hear it from an officer.

I don’t need anyone calling the police on me for no reason. It’s a waste of taxpayer dollars, and I don’t need the aggravation.

Dang it! February 11, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Now I to go peddle the bills in Pittsburg. Ugh!

Dorothy February 11, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Even banks won’t take responsibility for fake money if they give it to you. They sometimes get fakes too. If it goes into the drawer and then handed back out again they may never even notice they had a fake.

Cowellian February 11, 2014 at 3:44 PM

On the liability issue, you may not be in legal trouble for having a fake bill, but nobody on the planet is going to reimburse you for it, so you’re stuck for the value of the bill.

Some times February 11, 2014 at 3:54 PM

With store owners being the losing party when
a fake bill is passed to them, rather than take
the loss, they pass it to the next victim ( sucker).
That’s how it goes, it’s like tag, only instead of
“It”you are “out”.

Anon February 11, 2014 at 3:55 PM

I wouldn’t take the clerk’s word for it. I can’t tell if the bill is a 1991 or 1981 series from the picture. If it is a 1991 series bill it will have the security strip embedded in the paper. If it’s a 1981 series note it will not have the strip. Either way it is an older note and to be safe it might be a good idea to take it to the bank and ask them to verify it’s authenticity.

The Iceman Cometh February 11, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Okay – I’ll bite… On what basis was it declared a counterfeit? Because I have seen $2 bills called bogus based on clerks’ limited knowledge and, based on the depiction above of an “old school” $50 note, I could see a similar “lack of knowledge” defense.
Besides, I like the older paper money better than this newer “Euro-style” anyways.

Rebel February 11, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Don’t use the counterfeit pen that most stores use. Working as a cashier in my teens, I had more false positives than not, due to dirt on the bills. The link know the Mayor posted is the best way to spot a counterfeit bill; that and an UV light box.

Janice February 11, 2014 at 4:00 PM

If you ever suspect you have a conterfeit bill, call 911 and let the police figure it out. It’s far too dangerous confronting the person who gave it to you.

Nick February 11, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Im not going to Shell in Pleasant HIll anymore, sucks for them….

Rob February 11, 2014 at 4:03 PM

I don’t take $50’s or larger. Most places I see them checking $50’s and $100’s but rarely do I see people checking $20’s.

Grob February 11, 2014 at 4:04 PM

Scratch hard on the ink on the bill. If you can feel the ridges, its real.

wowrly February 11, 2014 at 4:11 PM

That thing looks fake from 100 miles away. This is my line of thinking: 1) a $50 is a big bill, I’m going to be weary of that and look at it carefully (can you give me change for this instead?) 2) How often do you see a bill (yes, I am aware its more common with big bills) minted in 1961? 3) You can see the other side of the bill from the front-probably even in bad light.

Why didn’t the customer (who originally got the $50 as change) notice any of this? Wouldn’t the gas station have surveillance on the cash register?

This one seems a little fishy to me.

@janet February 11, 2014 at 4:12 PM

BILL!, it’s not an emergency. GEEZ!

mee February 11, 2014 at 4:19 PM

My friend owns a liqueur store and showed me some he has got. So good you cannot tell, Until he bank tests them. Scary. No way to tell. I guess the only way is check each bill 5 different ways, and still, some so good, unless you have a chemical test or something a bank would have to scan bills, you are stuck with it. They do not reimburse you. I think they should maybe if the bill is that good..

Miss Ranchogirl February 11, 2014 at 4:21 PM

you guys crack me up…
call 911 for it?
who shops with a 100 bill for gas?

Jesenia February 11, 2014 at 4:53 PM

There are ways to tell if the bill is real. Lets say the bill is from the year 1981. In Google, type in ‘series 1981 $50 bill security features’ and look at different sites. The different ways to tell are:
1. the bill has red and blue threads throughout the bill
2. on older bills the pen won’t change color if it is real.
3. the engraving lines of Ben Franklin’s portrait will be sharp, and his image will appear to have depth, almost like a photo.
There are a few other ways. Just look it up. Hope this helps!

peter February 11, 2014 at 5:08 PM

If that is the picture of the fake 50.00 bill ,I”am at a loss to understand how anyone would accept it as change.It is clearly 100% fake.

Money Man February 11, 2014 at 5:26 PM

Wow, here’s an idea, take responsibility and learn a little about your currency, and laws. For one, local PD does not deal with counterfeiting, it’s federal – (as in Secret Service dudes in black suits that never smile) Two, pens, hairs on paper, etc don’t mean anything. Pens verify the paper, but will not tell you that a $20 has been reprinted on a $1 bill after being bleached. The fastest, and most accurate way of detecting fakes is hold them up to the light to see the watermarks (faces, numbers, etc). If your holding a $20, and the watermark has a big 5 on it, or if the face of the president is looking the wrong way or doesn’t match the bill, it’s been altered. Older bills are more complicated, and for the timid, I suggest you just say no so you don’t call 911 later.

Bills have been passed around in CC County forever and a day. Don’t think for one second anyone is going to be your protector and give you real money after you’ve accepted it and think it’s fake. Even when I get money from the bank, or change from stores, I check it right in front of them. Some laugh, but I’ve given back many fake bills that have totally surprised the laughing individual. Check your money. Key word there being “Your”.

Mr John February 11, 2014 at 5:38 PM

I do most transactions on a credit card where I intentionally have a low limit. It avoids these issues and limits my risk exposure.

M500 February 11, 2014 at 6:04 PM

I handle money daily, I’d have to feel it or see it in person, but per researching the 1981 50 dollar bill, I can’t see what is counterfeit about this!

Why did they say it was fake? I know 1981 seems like a long time ago, but it’s not like Reagan is in the photo or anything!

Get Real February 11, 2014 at 6:16 PM

Money Man, if something happens locally, you call the local PD. Like the Feds are going to take the call. Get real. The banks are equipped to tell whether money is real or counterfeit.

Keep on checking your money. Every single dollar. It’s your money.

Being a “know it all” will get you nowhere…..

Jose February 11, 2014 at 6:31 PM


“It’s far too dangerous confronting the person who gave it to you.”

From whom exactly are you accepting cash? I’ve never feared for my life when dealing with a gas station cashier or a clerk at Safeway. Are you conducting business with loan sharks, pimps, and crack dealers or something?

Man in Tan February 11, 2014 at 6:33 PM

While I can’t tell much from the photo of the older $50 above, Money Man speaks wisely. The “test pens” are useless when crooks bleach small bills and print over them. I too, check bills at the bank right in front of the teller. Like musical chairs, last one holding the bill when it’s found to be fake is stuck with it. I have investigated several bleached 5’s. $100 bill with Lincoln’s face when held up to the light. The secret service gets interested if you have a case over $100K worth of bills but no chance will they respond for a single bill. The older bills aren’t as easy as simply checking the watermark and they are still out there. When in doubt, ask for smaller bills in change or use an ATM card. Again, I’d like to stress…… the pens are worthless compared to checking the watermark.

Happ February 11, 2014 at 7:08 PM

Make a report with your local PD but nothing is going to happen investigation wise. If you received it as change they will do very little to see who passed it first. It will get sent the the Feds in SF office. Unfortunately your out the cash. The Feds will look to see it it matches others recovered in the area as they are really only after the source.

@ Dorothy #3 February 11, 2014 at 7:50 PM

That happened to my brother years ago! He was given a handful of $20’s from a bank in Antioch then went nearby to pay his cell phone bill with the same cash. The man behind the counter at the cell phone store RAISED HOLY HELL, screaming at my brother to get out of the store and never come back! My brother was mortified. AT FIRST the bank wouldn’t take responsibility (because my brother had exited the bank with the $$$) but when he pressed the issue, AND threatened to contact authorities, AND pointed out the specific teller he had just done business with… only then was her cash drawer checked. Bank management kept quiet, but were also very red-faced. Eventually my brother was given real, replacement $20 bills. What a damn racket when your own bank gives you fake money then says “Oh, sorry, but there’s nothing we can do about it.” WTF

BjR February 11, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Happened to me about a month ago…$30 cash back FoodMaxx Clayton Rd. Tried to spend the next day elsewhere and the 10 was fake!!

mika February 11, 2014 at 8:14 PM

Years ago students were passing counterfeit $5 bills in our high school cafeteria.

TC February 11, 2014 at 8:18 PM

The Secret Service is always interested in counterfeit money.

Call 415-576-1210

Doing anything else but surrending the counterfeit currency is tampering with evidence, a Federal Statute.

KAD February 11, 2014 at 9:11 PM

I guess I am going to given a fake bill at some point because I do not take the time to look at the bills given to me by a bank teller and certainly not an ATM machine.

Free Connie Dobbs

Money Man February 12, 2014 at 3:56 AM

Correct, the Secret Service will respond for as little as a fake dollar. It’s their gig. And, they take it VERY seriously. Names, video surveillance, you name it, they want it. I happen to be in a business environment that deals with a lot of cash transactions, so trust me when I speak.

If I can give any advice, it’s to be personally responsible for your money at all times. Check, double check. When I sell items on Craigs List, I check the money; when I get change at 7-11, I check the money. It’s just part of the responsibility of dealing with cash. Nothing bad, just part of the process. It’s out there, every where, so it’s up to you to know what is real, period.

mike February 12, 2014 at 8:04 AM

Did anyone qualified, other than the 7-Eleven clerk, verify this is in fact a counterfeit? Pretty hard to tell from this picture.

ConcordMike February 12, 2014 at 8:07 AM

The Secret Service does have a number to call if you suspect counterfeit currency. I’ve used it many times in my career.

Bottom line is that the Shell employee(s) should be investigated. Not accused yet, but at least investigated to see if any of them have a similar criminal history.

Baza February 12, 2014 at 8:37 AM

This happened to me a couple days before Christmas at Michael’s arts & crafts in Pleasnthill! With two twenties! I knew right away because I used to be a teller. I politely asked the cashier for a different set of twenties she responded with my maneger told me they were real to get rid of them when another customer refused to take them! I asked to speak to her maneger. i I told her they were counterfeit, to please not give them as change! As I’m sure they recived them by someone else a honest mistake. But she shouldnt make her customers pay for. She responded very irratated they are real here take theses other ones have a good day! Shushing me away. I wish I would have called the cops to make a complaint.

Plastic Moolah February 12, 2014 at 12:33 PM

Bring on the polymer banknotes like Mexico and a bunch of other nations are using now. It’s very hard to counterfeit, transfers fewer germs and it last much longer than the paper/cloth stuff.

I’m sure we’ll jump on that right after we switch to the metric system.

valiii February 12, 2014 at 3:13 PM

Last year I got stuck with a counterfeit $5- bill, yes $5- .
I think I got it from the bank! Most people don’t look at the small bills, but the Arco attendant spotted it right away.
Hey, I hope no one calls 911 for this.

Julio February 12, 2014 at 6:32 PM

As a former banker the one with his hands on the counterfeit last is the loser. You bring it to the bank we keep it and send it to the Feds. You are the one out. We get it from a merchant in their deposit they are out. You can get a receipt for it stating we took it and it is counterfeit but you get no money. If it is mixed in to money we get for some reason and no one can be identified as the last holder then the bank is out. Sorry folks

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