JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Jackson County Sheriff's deputies are on the lookout for the person or persons making fake money and trying to spend it at local events and businesses. Investigators said the counterfeit bills began showing up in the county in early October.
"I am surprised they are counterfeiting these bills," said Jackson County Fair Association President Eddie Russell.
Last week at the fair, some vendors were greeted by fake Benjamins.
"Went to get a pen to mark it and when she marked it, it showed up as fake, turned around and he had already ran."
Russell said what's frustrating is there's probably more counterfeit cash in the county that could end up in residents' pockets.
"You can get a hundred dollar bill given to you from another store from somebody else that didn't check it," Russell said.
Investigator Curtis Spiers has also received an increase of phony money reports.
"I think to date we are up to nine $100 bills and two $20 bills in the past two weeks, just in Jackson County. I was also told that there is a possibility of one in D'Iberville," Spiers said.
Investigator Spiers said there are a lot of sophisticated counterfeit bills out there, and it's not as easy as you might think to tell the real from the fake.
"It can be money that is on fake paper or there is a group using real bills and changing the denominations."
Deputies are now trying to figure out who the makers of the bogus bills are, and where they are making them.
"Obviously, we have contacted the United States Secret Service to get them involved because it is U.S. Treasury Funds. This is not usually a seasonal thing as much as it is from time to time there is a ring. Somebody teaches someone else and they move across the country and start their own ring," said Spiers.
His advice on how to avoid accepting counterfeit cash?
"Merchants, train your cashiers, contact your local financial institution or whoever you bank with and they should be able to give training on how to identify a real bill," Spiers said.
If you have any information that can help this counterfeiting case, call the Jackson County Sheriff's Department at (228) 769-3159.