Arizona woman warns of counterfeit money scam

One Valley woman says she's out hundreds of dollars after she was given counterfeit bills when she tried to sell her camera.
Published: Jun. 27, 2023 at 8:03 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Heads up, take a closer look at your change. Counterfeit money is going around, with more fake bills turning up at Valley businesses.

One woman says she was given counterfeit bills when she tried to sell her camera. Now she’s out several hundred dollars with no way to get it back. “You don’t realize how awful people can be until it happens,” she said.

On Sunday, the Valley woman who did not want to appear on camera decided to sell her high-end digital camera on Facebook marketplace. “The only reason I was selling the camera was obviously because I needed the money and I was even willing to lower the price to help him out.” The Sony A7 camera is worth $2,000, but she agreed to sell it for $1,500. “I’m out about $800,” she said.

She and her fiancé agreed to meet the buyer at a Mesa gas station. “I had told him to make sure it has the right amount of bills. And after sifting through it, he realized that some of the bills felt funny and realized they felt fake,” she said.

As soon as they realized the money was fake, things quickly took a turn. She says the man ran and took off in his car. “Did you ever try to contact that buyer?” Arizona’s Family reporter Sarah Robinson asked the woman. “I did as soon as he realized it was fake, the buyer was gone. My fiance called me and I found the buyer on Facebook and he blocked me,” she said.

She says she turned the money into the bank and has talked to the secret service, which handles counterfeits. “I was more sad than angry about the situation because it was messed up,” she said.

But the odds of getting her money back are slim. “If you think you might have some easy ways to check in the moment: feel it, make sure it feels like cotton and fiber and less like paper. A real bill like this one will have watermarks when you hold it up in natural lighting, it’ll also have color-shifting ink. If you look at this 20, it appears yellow. But when I angle it up, it looks green.”

Counterfeits have been spotted in other parts of the Valley too. Hair Craft Salon and Linger Longer Lounge in Phoenix say they spotted obvious fake $20 bills on the ground in their parking lot over the weekend. “If it prevents other people from getting scammed then that is the point of this interview,” she said.

Arizona’s Family contacted the secret service for a comment and has not yet heard back. If you think a bill might be fake, click here.

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