Counterfeit money has business owners on edge

GERMANTOWN, TN (WMC) - Fake money is popping up at businesses across the Mid-South.

In one case, the suspects managed to use the counterfeit money at one restaurant at least three times in two days.

Now, local business owners are warning others to be on the lookout.

After 30 years in the food business, Charles Vanelli of Vanelli's Deli knows how hard it is to come by $100.

"Right now, you can't afford to lose $100," Vanelli said.

But that is exactly how much his family run business is missing after two people reportedly ordered food, and paid the cashier with a fake $100 bill.

"Paid with a $100 bill," Vanelli said. "Then they said we are going to run errands, we'll be back."

Vanelli's Deli in Germantown is not the only local store seeing fake cash passing as the real thing.

The store manager at Wild Beets Salad Co. confirmed both their Germantown and Memphis locations have been hit.

Wild Beet Salad Company General Manager Chase Kelley released a statement:

"I was not present in store for either incident. It was discovered the following mornings and I subsequently reviewed all of our CCTV footage We have never encountered this problem before after nearly 4 years of business but these incidents show that you always need to be cautious. Counterfeit money obviously has a negative effect on everyone, but for a local business such a Wild Beet Salad Co, the hit taken is especially hard. Having had both locations affected, Memphis and Germantown, it is clearly evident that no city or part of town is immune from crime of any type. If nothing else, it is our hope that other people in our community are not dealt any further misfortune by the people pictured."

Surveillance images show the three people who the store's manager said reportedly passed the fake $100 bills.

In total, the store has lost more than $500.

We did some digging and found out MPD has reported two more counterfeit cases in downtown Memphis.

Vanelli said his entire staff is now paying more attention and he has set new rules to ensure only real money makes it into the cash register.

"I'll come out here, take the bill in the back, break it down, check it out, see how it goes," Vanelli said.

There are a few easy ways to ensure that a $100 bill is real. You should look for the blue security ribbon across the bill.

There is also a color-changing bell, and you can hold the bill into the light and look for the watercolors.

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