ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – Secret Service officials say more crooks are passing fake bills during transactions made on Craigslist.
The issue came to prominence recently after a couple in Indianapolis sold electronics through the classified website. The buyer paid them in counterfeit cash, and before they realized, the thief was gone.
News 4 checked with Secret Service in St. Louis, which confirmed counterfeiting on Craigslist has become a much bigger issue in recent years.
The Secret Service recommend sellers who want to protect themselves should write down a license plate number, ask for the buyer’s ID and bring genuine money to compare.
“Sell your product in a bank parking lot and tell the person you’re selling it you want to take the money in and have the bank check it before you complete the sale,” said Secret Service employee Kristina Schmidt.
The Secret Service says in a typical week, banks around St. Louis catch $2,000 to $4,000 of counterfeit notes. In a busy week, that number can rise to $8,000 to $10,000.
Counterfeiters are extremely busy this time of year, taking advantage of busy store clerks. They’ll buy high-end items at one store with counterfeit money and return it to another store to get genuine cash back.
Some seasonal employees are sometimes in on the scam, checking out friends who pay with phony money.
Those who do accept counterfeit money are out of luck. The banks won’t reimburse businesses and it’s against the law to knowingly pass it along.
“The last person holding the counterfeit, unfortunately, is who will take the loss,” said Schmidt.
For more basics on how to protect yourself from counterfeiters, go to the Secret Service’s website.