Police probe fake money

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Driver tries to pass counterfeit $20 bills at fast food restaurants

By Jesef Williams

Police are looking into a case in which someone tried to use counterfeit money at two fast food restaurants late last month.

An officer with the Lancaster Police Department came to McDonald’s on S.C. 9 Bypass shortly before 7 p.m. June 24 in response to a call about a counterfeit bill.

The restaurant manager said a “younger” male came to the drive thru and gave the window attendant a counterfeit $20 bill, according to a Lancaster Police Department incident report.

The attendant took the bill not knowing it was fake but soon realized and let the manager know about it, the report said.

The manager went to the pick-up window as the vehicle was leaving the parking lot. However, she was able to get the license plate number, which was assigned to a Chevrolet Cobalt. It’s registered to a Heath Circle resident.

The window attendant said two other men were in the vehicle.

Second incident

Less than an hour later, an officer came to Wendy’s on North Main Street in response to another call about counterfeit money.

An employee said he was working the drive thru window when three men came through riding in a Chevrolet Cobalt. It had the same license plate number that was reported in the McDonald’s incident.

The driver tried to pay with a bill that the Wendy’s employee realized was counterfeit. He immediately told the driver he had to take possession of it, the report said.

“The suspect paid for the remainder of his food with non-counterfeit cash and left the store,” the officer wrote in the report.

The employee then called authorities.

Lancaster Police Capt. Scott Grant said no arrests have been made, though there are suspects.

“We’re actually working that case with some other agencies,” he said.

Prevalence of counterfeiting

Grant said the Lancaster Police Department sees about three to five counterfeit-money cases each week. Most of them involve patrons unaware they’re using fake money, he said.

A few, though, are part of deliberate operations – some of which involve people printing the fake bills in the county.

“We do occasionally run into that,” he said.

Grant said “volume businesses” such as fast food restaurants are often the places where bills are passed because clerks and attendants usually deal with so many customers. The belief is that those clerks are so busy that they may not have time to check if the bills are fake.

But Grant said those employees – along with law enforcement – are trained to recognize counterfeit money. “Several measures are in place to protect currency,” Grant said.


Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152