BELLINGHAM - Police have received seven reports of counterfeit $20 bills in the last month and are advising people to keep a lookout for the phony notes.
Fake bills come in spurts like this, Bellingham Police Lt. Bob Vander Yacht said. The easiest way to spot one is to check for the watermark by holding the bill up to the light.
"Whoever makes these will have a pocket full of them, and they have no incentive to stop using them," Vander Yacht said.
A man went into the Jimmy John's sandwich shop on Railroad Avenue on March 2 and bought a sandwich with a $20, got his change and left. He then came back into the store and bought another sandwich with a different $20, leaving with his change, Vander Yacht said.
Employees became suspicious and reported it to the police. Officers at the scene determined the bills used to buy those sandwiches were counterfeit.
This is a common way people use these fake bills to make money, Vander Yacht said.
"If those sandwiches cost $10 each, he just made $20 for nothing," Vander Yacht said.
Similar cases have happened in the last month at the O'Reilly Auto Parts on Meridian Street and other businesses on Railroad Avenue. Police are pursuing a suspect in the O'Reilly case, and they are in the process of obtaining video surveillance in the Jimmy John's case, Vander Yacht said.
It is not clear if or to what extent these cases are related, Vander Yacht said, but he noted it's important for businesses to report them to police.
Reach James Kozanitis at James.Kozanitis@bellinghamherald.com or 360-715-2249.