Teen bilked in counterfeit bill scam

COVINGTON -- A young man was bilked out of $350 recently when he sold his dirt bike, even though he was paid in cash, according to the Newton County Sheriff's Office.

Public Information Officer Deputy Courtney Morrison said the fraud was discovered when the 17-year-old Eastside High School student attempted to buy some biscuits in the school cafeteria. The cafeteria cashier accepted two $20 bills from the young man, but later discovered they were counterfeit.

Morrison said when asked about the bills, the student said they were part of a cash payment he had received in exchange for his dirt bike in the amount of $950.

"He said he still had the cash on him and he pulls this big wad of money out of his pocket. He had $925 and of that, $575 was real and $350 was counterfeit." Morrison said.

Morrison said the money was cleverly bundled, with the counterfeit bills scattered throughout.

"About every other bill was fake," she said.

The young man told authorities that he had sold his bike to a lady he had been told about by an acquaintance.

"He never spoke with the female who purchased his bike, but was coached by this third party who he only knew by a nickname," Morrison said. "He went with this acquaintance to meet her at the dirt bike track and she hands him a wad of money. He's 17 and that's all he sees is the money."

Morrison said the $575 was given back to the young man and the Sheriff's Office confiscated the $350 counterfeit bills. The origin of the bills will be investigated by CID and the U.S. Secret Service.

"He was going to buy a 4-wheeler and now he's out $350. It's a tough lesson learned," Morrison said, adding that there are a few simple precautions that can be taken to take the risk out of accepting counterfeit bills.

"In all currency in the amount of $5 or higher, there is a watermark on the front and a security strip on the left," she said. "Hold your bill up to the light and if you see a watermark that looks like Lincoln, Hamilton or Franklin, accompanied by a light colored strip on the right, it's authentic."

Also, Morrison suggested if you're making a transaction where a large amount of cash is involved, tell the person you want to meet them at a bank.

"It's a public place and you can go in and have the money counted and confirm that it's authentic," she said.