GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Gulfport business owner is warning people to be on the lookout for fake money after a customer used counterfeit currency to pay for merchandise at her store.
The holidays are always a busy time at Panache Ladies boutique apparel and accessories. Owner Rebeca Fairley said it can also be a busy time for crime. On Wednesday, she said a man paid for his $25 purchase with a phony $100 bill. She said he left the store with his merchandise and $75 in real cash.
"And then, of course, we realized after he had walked out the door that the money he gave us was counterfeit," said Fairley.
Fairley said normally her employee would've checked the $100 using a counterfeit detector pen. But the employee said something about the customer made her feel uncomfortable.
"This time last year, we had a shoplifter. They target us at the busiest times. We caught her, and she was arrested," said Fairley. "We're definitely seeing that. We don't see it severely often, but at the same time, we know what to look for. We just have to educate ourselves and educate other stores."
Whether the customer did or did not intentionally use the $100 is still up in the air. Though Fairley's not happy about losing $100, the phony money didn't have her fuming for long.
"I am a Christian, and I try to do things as Christ would do. And so, I guess that is really the reason," she said. "People don't know right from wrong at times. They've gone through a crisis in their family. They've had a hard time, and they are rebelling against that, and they are reacting against that. So, I think that's what is really happening, and we need to pray for those too."
Fairley has filed a report with Gulfport police, who say they are investigating the counterfeit incident.
Anyone caught knowingly using counterfeit bills could face charges. According to UScurrency.gov, the $100 dollar note has five key security features that can help you avoid accepting a fake. They are the 3-D security ribbon, the bell in the inkwell, color-shifting numerals, a watermark and a security thread.