Counterfeiters targeting rural Missouri towns with fake money

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ST. JAMES, MO (KPLR) – Police in a couple Missouri towns are on the lookout for counterfeiters. In this particular case, the phony money apparently has ties to Hollywood.

Three cases are being investigated in St. James alone. Stores have been hit with fake $100 bills, even though they all contain a warning on the counterfeit money.

Counterfeiters have been able to pass them even though they have a warning on both sides that says, “For motion picture use only.” But the movie money warning does blend in to the look of the bill.

“It is labeled on there, but if you’re a cashier and got a line of customers waiting behind you and somebody comes up and passes it across to you, maybe it’s something you miss; you don’t check,” St. James Police Chief Ron Jones said.

One grocery store in town got stuck with two of the counterfeit bills. A local smoke shop accepted one.

“It’s horrible to have $100 profit taken from us. It hurts,” said Jeri Faver, a manager at the smoke shop.

The chief said suspects go on the internet and find places to purchase the movie money. St. James is a town of about 4,500 people. A lot of the shops are family owned.

“I think a lot of these businesses are in these smaller communities are just trying to get by,” Chief Jones said. “When they get defrauded like this with a couple hundred dollars here or there and it can hit a lot harder than these big corporations.”

A few miles down the road in Rolla, police there are investigating similar cases. St. James police have been alerting all shop owners to be vigilant.

“We looked, we actually looked through the bill and read the magnetic strip; it says on the strip what denomination it is,” said Janet Spurgeon, an owner of a Rolla convenience store.

Meanwhile, St. James police have alerted the U.S. Secret Service.