OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Beware of counterfeiters is the advice investigator John Flowers wants to spread in Ocean Springs. He said the recent arrest of 45-year-old James Johnson on three counterfeiting charges is a prime example that the crime is on the rise. Police say they found dozens of fake bills at the Imperial Motel on Highway 90, where Johnson was staying.
"There was a misdemeanor arrest warrant issued for Mr. Johnson. Officers went out there to serve that warrant. During that process, they were able to observe counterfeit money. We realized the money was being printed from a home computer," Flowers said.
Flowers said Johnson was allegedly using the fake money at shops in Ocean Springs.
"We have worked closely with the U.S. Secret Service in reference to counterfeiting activities that have taken place. It appears to be on the rise on the coast, and we have had several reports of this in recent weeks."
News of counterfeiting is not setting well with Kelly Barzely because she just opened her shop in the city less than three months ago.
"A lot of businesses down here in Ocean Springs work really hard to get their stores up and running, and it really affects us," Barzely said.
There are several ways you can find out if the cash you are receiving is real. Investigator Flowers recommends that people feel the money. Also, look at the front and the back of the bill to see if it's counterfeit.
"Most of us are not an expert on the feel U.S. Currency. I would suggest holding up to the light and look at it. If it is not real, after a closer look you will be able to tell."
This new business owner says she will remember those tips, so she won't end up with fake cash.
"Check harder, definitely check harder. For those who don't know how to check, you need to learn how to check."
Investigator Flowers said suspect James Johnson is in the Ocean Springs jail, and he's also charged with possessing crack cocaine. Johnson's preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.