Counterfeit 50s circulating around Southern Arizona

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Fake fifty dollar bills are circulating around Southern Arizona, and by the time people realize they're not genuine, it's too late.

Clear as day it reads, "In God We Trust." It looks and feels like a genuine $50 bill.

At least that's what Green Valley Estates resident Marie Lucka thought when a man gave it to her in exchange for her $10 crock pot at a neighborhood yard sale.

"I gave him $40 and he took the crock pot and left," said Lucka.

But when Marie took the bill to the bank, the teller was quickly able to tell that it was not a genuine bank note.

Marie's not alone. Three of her neighbors were also recently scammed at a yard sale.

"The process is known as bleaching and it's a way the counterfeits at least get the feel of a genuine bill," said U.S. Secret Service Agent Cristina Beloud.

Agent Beloud says her Tucson office sees between $2,500 and $4,500 worth of counterfeit bills a week.

The majority are $1and $5 bills that have been bleached and reprinted as a $50 or $100.

"It will feel genuine to you.  You can look closely and see the red and blue polyester fibers that are in genuine currency paper, but again, it's counterfeit," said Beloud.

To avoid the fake money, Agent Beloud says take a close look at the bill and make sure it's crisp with clean lines, not blurry, and look for the color shifting ink.

"The denomination on the lower right hand corner will color shift.  It will look one color when you look in one light and if you tilt it, it will look another," said Beloud.

It's a sign Lucka wishes she would have known earlier.

Now she hopes her situation will serve as a warning to others.

Visit the site of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to learn more about detecting counterfeit bills.