When Robert Carroll cashed his Social Security check at this New Port Richey Walmart in late July, the last thing on his mind was counterfeit cash.
Unfortunately, that's exactly what he had in his pocket that day: $200 worth of "funny money" apparently dispensed from the Walmart.
Carroll didn't know the money was fake until his wife Sandra went to Amscot to buy a couple of money orders to pay bills.
"They seized it. My $200, and said ‘you can't have it back.' I said ‘why not?' They said, ‘they're both counterfeit. Where did you get these?' " Sandra said.
The Carrolls say Amscot took the cash to give to the Secret Service and gave them paperwork. They say a Walmart manager was little help.
"He said, ‘I don't know what to tell you, I don't know what we can do about it,' " said Sandra Carroll.
Just like that, the couple was out of $200 to pay an insurance bill, something that the experts say is an unfortunate reality when dealing with counterfeit bills.
"Whoever ends up with the bill last is the one that takes the loss," said John Seybold of the Tampa field office of the United States Secret Service.
Seybold says his office gets $30,000 a week in counterfeit money from the Tampa area alone. He says if you have a concern over the cash you get, there's a quick and easy way to check it: the dollar amount printed in the bottom right corner of every bill is printed in what they call "optically variable ink"
If you tilt the bill, that ink will change colors, proving it's the real thing.
"If you could just take the time with that OVI that ink, you probably will know pretty fast if it's good or bad," Seybold said.
When reached by phone, a Walmart representative says they plan to reach out to the Carrolls and look forward to resolving the issue. Robert Carroll says he did a few odd jobs to replace the money they lost, but won't soon forget this experience.
"You never like to lose $200," said Robert Carroll.
Many have seen cashiers using counterfeit detector pens on large bills. The Secret Service says they can produce mixed results. They say a counterfeiter can bleach say, a five dollar bill, and change it to a hundred dollar bill. They say the pen would still show it as real currency.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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