Counterfeit $5 and $10 bills have been passed at two Peabody businesses in the past two weeks. J and M Liquor and Peabody Market have each taken a $10 bill and the liquor store also took a $5 bill.
A clerk at Peabody Market is believed to have taken the bill on March 12. Store managers Frank Davis and Tracy Kemper checked the bill with a counterfeit detector pen and the ink changed from white to black when applied to the surface of the phony bill, indicating it was not U.S. currency.
They called Peabody police to report the incident. An officer came to the store, interviewed the parties involved, and filed a report about the phony bill.
Police chief Bruce Burke was out of town at a training conference, but said his office contacted the United States Secret Service, the federal agency in charge of handling counterfeit currency.
“They are the ones who deal with counterfeit crimes,” he said. “The investigation is ongoing at this time.”
During the following week, Mallory Hall discovered additional bills J and M Liquor. On March 18, she made a bank deposit at a Newton bank. The teller found a counterfeit $5 and $10 bill in the deposit.
“I thought they felt funny when I was counting money to take to the bank,” Hall said. “But I didn’t pay too much attention. I just thought they were old and worn, like someone had run them through the wash or something.”
The teller counting the money knew immediately the bills were fake. As Hall thought, they felt different and there was no security strip on the bill, visible when held to the light.
“She [the teller] said they would contact authorities about it, so I just left the two bills with her,” Hall said. “There is no way of knowing if we took them both from the same person or took them from two individuals.”
Liquor store owner Janie Hampton said she thought it was important to alert merchants, not only in Peabody, but also in Marion County, to the problem.
“We definitely think the story should be publicized,” she said. “People need to know to be on the lookout.”
Burke said any one who thinks they have been given counterfeit currency should contact police and file a report.