Police say phony money is being passed at businesses and financial institutions in the Clinton, Iowa area.
Between December 20, 2012 and January 6, 2013, at least 13 suspected counterfeit bills have been passed there.
The fake money includes ten-, twenty- and fifty-dollar bills.
Clinton Police say if you receive counterfeit money, it’s important to limit handling of the note. Put it in an envelope or other protective covering, and surrender it only to a properly identified police officer or U.S. Secret Service agent.
Local businesses say this isn't the first time they have heard about counterfeit money problems. One local bar says it saw a counterfeit bill just three months ago.
"My bartender went back and said, 'This doesn't look right,'" bar owner Rollyn Loomis said. "He took it over to a friend, and he said, 'Well this is as phony as a three dollar bill.'"
Police in Clinton, Iowa and in Sterling, Illinois reported counterfeit $50 passed at local businesses in December, 2011 as well. In those cases, $5 were washed and made to look like $50 bills. That makes the fakes test positive as genuine currency when tested with a currency marker. In addition to testing, recipients can also check bills they think are suspicious through a light to view the government watermark.
"I just think it's a sign of the times," Loomis said of the counterfeiting. "People are out to take advantage of anybody they can."
Police do not have any suspects at this time. They do not know whether they've caught all the counterfeit bills.