Local coalition warns of counterfeit money

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A Panama City Beach coalition sent an email on Wednesday warning local businesses of counterfeit money.

The Grand Lagoon Coalition is a group of business leaders and members. One of the tasks of the organization is to look out for financial crimes like distributing counterfeit bills.

Tom Putnam, the President of the Grand Lagoon Coalition and a manager at Half Hitch, sent the email after a customer attempted to use fake bills.

"So what happened to us this weekend is a customer tried to give us four $100 bills that were actually 'for movie use only,'" Putnam said.

He does not know if the customer knowingly tried to use the bills, but Putnam said he wanted to caution other businesses of either novelty money or counterfeit bills.

"You know, it kinda caught us off guard and everybody doesn't think about it," Putnam said.

Buster Busuttil, the owner of Buster's Beer and Bait, uses a counterfeit
detection pen to spot fake money.

"This is the time of year, I think, that they try to do that because they know we're so busy and you get overwhelmed and it's easy to pass it on, versus winter we're slow and we got time to check it out," said Busuttil.

The Bay County Sheriff's Office (BCSO) receives about a dozen counterfeit-related cases each year. Dennis Rozier, a BCSO Investigator, said the cases are not an "epidemic."

"People will get that warning bell that goes off, but then they don't sit there and try to figure out what's wrong with this," Rozier said.

According to BCSO, some ways people can tell if they have counterfeit bills include checking the watermark, feeling the texture and tilting the iridescent dollar value in the bottom right corner of the bill. If the print does not change color in the light, it is a fake.