BREMERTON, Wash. - Kitsap County Sheriff's investigators are warning about a slew of counterfeit bills that have shown up in businesses and homes all over the county.
"We've had espresso stands, we've had retail stores, we've had a dentist office, we've had the casino [hit]," said Deputy Scott Wilson, who says more they're investigating more than a dozen instances of fake $50 and $100 bills.
That includes one that happened last week at the Joy and Peace Christian Book Center in Bremerton.
"I think maybe there's the thought that we're more trusting?" said storeowner Ken Fulcher. "We're committed to serving the community, but things like this do make it a bit more difficult."
In many cases, the suspect entered a busy store, bought something with the fake bill -- like a keychain -- and pocketed the change. In a few instances, the fake bill wasn't discovered until a victim used it at a store or bank, said Wilson.
Part of the authenticity of the bills is that they're printed on "washed" $5 bills, and thus can pass tests with pens that check the quality of the paper. But investigators said you can hold the bill up to the light and see a watermark image of Abraham Lincoln, as well as the words "FIVE DOLLARS" on the embedded security strip.
Also, the number "50" in the bottom right corner uses cheap ink, not the type that changes colors like in authentic bills, said Wilson.
"If there's something just not right about the feel of the bill or the appearance of the bill, do the double check," said Wilson.
Investigators say they're not sure yet, but it's possible these are the same counterfeiters who defrauded girl scouts here last winter. They are continuing to investigate, and are also reporting their findings to the U.S. Secret Service, since counterfeiting is a federal offense.