Coronado business owners hit with counterfeit $100 bills

CORONADO, Calif. (KGTV)— More than three business owners in Coronado have been hit by criminals using fake $100 bills to make small purchases.

Sam Frederick’s shop, Little Sam’s Island and Beach Fun on Coronado Island has all things fun. But last Saturday, fun was not on his mind, after somebody took advantage of his new employee.

A man tried to buy three towels with a $100 bill. But at the last minute, he changed his mind to buy just one.

“He realized that my guy was going to cash the $100 bill, so he puts two towels back, and he got more money that way,” Frederick said. 

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The clerk took the bill, gave the man $85 in change, and left. When Frederick checked the cash register that night, he said something was not right. 

“I knew right there… The Ben Franklin wasn’t in shape at all,” he said. 

Coronado police say he is not alone. Investigators are looking into at least three more counterfeit $100 bill incidents in the last week. 

Joshua Jordan owns Treasures from the Heart, next door. 

He too was hit. The man again took advantage of his sweet employee.

RELATED: Woman wanted in connection with using counterfeit bills at businesses in North County

“He pulled out his credit card, I guess you can say, pretending to want to use it. Then he pulled out a $100 the last minute, very apologetic, saying “can you break $100?” Jordan said. 

They did. But the incident happened not once, but twice. 

“He saw that it was an easy mark, went to the next store, came back again, and bought a little more to look better,” Jordan said. 

He did not use the change he got from the first transaction but paid with another fake $100 bill with the same serial number. The bill was immediately rejected by the bank the next day.

“I know maybe to some companies, $200 is not much. But to me it really hurts,” Jordan said. 

As Coronado Police continues their investigation, they are also encouraging business owners to check each bill with a pen and a black light machine, ask for ID, or call them if they are suspicious. 

“Right now we are working in cooperation with the secret service to see if this is an isolated incident in Coronado, or part of a larger trend in San Diego as a whole,” Det. Anthony Flores with the Coronado Police Dept. said.

Investigators describe the suspect as a slim, lighter skinned Latino or Middle Eastern man in his 20’s to 30’s. 

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