Clovis farmer's market on lookout for counterfeit bills

FRESNO, Calif.

The Business Organization of Old Town (B.O.O.T.) tells Action News seven counterfeit $20 bills were handed to merchants over the summer season including two last month.

Since the bills were first discovered, B.O.O.T. Has reached out to farmers to educate them on what to look for. Last month it held a meeting to go over some preventative measures and each booth is now posting signs to discourage counterfeiters from striking again.

Sumner Peck Ranch in Madera is one of dozens of merchants who show up every Friday night at the farmers market in Old Town Clovis to sell the fruits of its labor.

"We don't do only fresh fruits and vegetables, we do dry fruit, nuts, almonds, everything so we're pretty busy," Sumner Peck ranch manager Jim Gerber said.

Which is why Gerber says he can understand why vendors would be targeted by thieves.

"It's probably a pretty good place for them to unload it because of the fast pace of it and everything going on. You know, money, people, they want to go fast," Gerber said.

But starting this summer his employees are arming themselves with new knowledge to prevent them from falling victim again.

"Usually we have the same 3 or 4 employees there and they're all schooled on what to be looking for," Gerber said.

Both B.O.O.T. and Clovis police are putting the word out to vendors to check every bill. They say counterfeit pens are the first line of defense, but merchants should take other precautions as well.

"The main thing you should do is just trust your gut. If you get a bill back and it just doesn't feel right, it doesn't look right you need to inspect it a little more closely," Clovis police corporal Vince Weibert said.

Weibert says hold the bill up to the sunlight and check for the thread that runs through the left side. He says vendors should also look for the watermark of the president's face on the right side and examine the spacing of the print. For example, a real bill will be centered exactly on the paper.

Gerber says it's a time consuming process but if crooks notice everyone is checking the problem will soon disappear. Police are also urging vendors to be good witnesses. After calling police they say write down a description of the suspect and try to take a picture of them with your cell phone.

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