Thieves carrying counterfeit having been working to hit a string of Seminole Heights area businesses with counterfeit money.
"As soon as he gave me the bill, it felt a little iffy," said Greg Spadaccini of Spaddy's Coffee Co., a coffee cart on Florida Avenue.
Greg said he then held it up to another $20 bill in his drawer and then realized it wasn't real.
"It felt like a regular sheet of paper," he said. "And I told the guy just get out of here man. stop trying to rob us. we're all working hard here."
Spaddy's Coffee hasn't been the only shop counterfeiters have targeted.
Mauricio Faedo's Bakery also received fake $20 bills. So did the Independent Bar and Cafe.
"Businesses like these are what I call penny businesses," said Bradley Jones, general manager at the Independent Bar and Cafe. "Every penny counts."
Jones said he realized they'd been hit by thieves carrying counterfeit money when one of their servers tried to spend her tip money.
"A ten dollar bill may seem small in comparison to a large at the end of the day but a ten dollar bill is a lot pennies," Jones said.
So how can you tell the difference?
In this case, there was a definite difference in the weight of the paper. It feels different than legitimate bills.
Plus, the fake bills being distributed to Independent Bar and Cafe were dyed darker and were smaller in size than regular bills.
Also holding the bills up to the light can help. The number in the bottom right corner and the pink mark just to the right of the president will have a shine and shimmer to them.
Tampa Police also have these safety tips to help recognize fake bills:
Ways to protect from being taken by counterfeit money:
· Don't rush through a transaction, take your time. A person trying to pass off counterfeit money may attempt come across rushed or impatient hoping to distract you and keep you from paying close attention to the bills.
· If you come across a counterfeit currency; try to record as much information as possible about the person who gave it to you. The more detailed the information, the more detectives have to investigate.
· Place the counterfeit currency in an envelope for officers.
· Be sure to call and make a police report with your local agency or local branch of the Secret Service. The US Secret Service has primary jurisdiction to investigate counterfeiting of US currency.
Look for security features.
· Authentic currency has security features in place to help combat counterfeiting:
· Look for watermarks and security threads on any bill $5 or higher.
· Authentic currency uses raised printing and microprinting to combat counterfeiting.
· Currency prior to 1990 does not contain security threads or microprinting.
· Full details on currency security features can be viewed at www.uscurrency.gov