Fake $100 bill prompts warning to downtown Charleston businesses

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A downtown Charleston business owner is sending out a warning after someone successfully passed a counterfeit $100 bill at his store last week.

The phony bill was used at Palmettoville on South Market Street, a store that sells t-shirts and novelties on South Market Street.

"It's a big problem, people coming from all over and this is a heavy place for tourism, spending a lot of cash," said Hannah Mills, assistant manager at Palmettoville.

"With the bigger bills we really try to make sure we're using checking, holding up to the light, making sure you can see the little hologram strip."

Mills says the strip was on the bill and it seemed legit. Even the store's special counterfeit detecting marker failed to show the bill was fake.

"This one got through and it's an unfortunate situation," Mills said. "You take it to the bank, they're not gonna take it so you're just kind of out."

The U.S. Secret Service in Charleston says in many cases counterfeiters use actual one or five dollar bills and use a combination of chemicals to print the larger denominations on them.

It's tough to tell the difference.

Officials say on average, every week $3,500 in counterfeit cash is passed in a nine county area that includes Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties.

Mills says all she and the other employees at Palmettoville can do is be aware of clever counterfeiters.

"Be careful and check every bill that you have. They're really, really good. Slow down and pay attention," Mills said.

So how do you spot a counterfeit 50 or $100 bill?

The Secret Service says check the print quality, real bills are crisp and the printing is clear.

Officials also say on a phony bill the ink will run when the bill is wet.

Copyright 2017 WCSC. All rights reserved.