Counterfeiters target small businesses in Gautier

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - By Patrice Clark – bio | email

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Gautier Police say they're closer to finding out who's passing counterfeit money around town. Fake $20 bills have turned up at shops on Highway 90 and Ladnier Road.

Detective Matt Hoggatt said in the last week, four business owners have run across fake twenties. He said the replicas are convincing.

"At first glance, if I saw it on the ground or walking around and noticed it in plain view, my first inclination would be that it is a $20 bill," Hoggatt said.

Police recommend businesses take extra precautions and check bills for security strips. Business owners can also buy a counterfeit pen to check if the bills are real or fake. Police said when you mark a real twenty, the line will be almost invisible on the money. But when you mark a fake twenty, the line is usually brown or dark.

"This definitely makes us want to check our money more closely, give us a hundred or a twenty," Big Dog Liquor owner James Dixon said.

Dixon is lucky. He said the counterfeiters haven't hit his store, but he's staying on guard.

"I can't afford to give someone a hundred dollars worth of merchandise and take a counterfeit bill from them."

Police said everyone pays when counterfeit bills are passed around town.

"Cost the taxpayers money, because now we have to investigate it. It costs mom and pop money because they are going to be out the money when they attempt to buy something when they didn't know it was fake," Hoggatt said. "It costs everybody on Main Street a fake dollar or two when it is passed because they can be victims as well."

Investigators said they're working several leads and examining surveillance video from stores to find who's passing the funny money.

Gautier Police are encouraging anyone with information on the counterfeit money to call (228) 497-2486 or the Mississippi Coast Crime-Stoppers at 1-877-787-5898.

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