2 downtown Fort Myers businesses hit with counterfeit money

Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
A still image from surveillance video at Bahia Bowls in downtown Fort Myers shows a male suspect accused of using counterfeit money to buy food from the business in June 2021. Police say this male suspect is accused of doing the same thing at at least one other downtown business, and say likely more have been affected. Credit: Shared with WINK News.

Counterfeit cash has made its way into a couple Southwest Florida businesses recently.

Bahia Bowls in downtown Fort Myers is one of them. Surveillance video caught the moment a fake bill was handed over to the cashier.

This happened steps away from Scoops on First where that same suspect in a green shirt is seen using a phony $100 bill.

Fort Myers Police Department told us crooks are washing dollar bills and then reprinting them as $100 bills, making it harder for businesses to detect.

The surveillance at Bahia Bowls captured a man and woman walking into the restaurant and handing over a fake $100 bill.

β€œHe walked up to the counter and ordered a large bowl, and then, I could tell that he was trying to confuse me,” cashier Delaney Capo said.

Capo was working behind the register when it all happened. She told us she had a weird feeling from the start.

β€œWhen I use the indicator marker, it didn’t turn black like it supposed to for a counterfeit bill,” Capo said. β€œBut it just didn’t look right. Something was off with it.”

We previously reported Scoops on First had also been hit with a counterfeit bill. Surveillance video from the ice cream shop captures the same suspects in the store. The man not only helps himself to the tip jar but also hands over a fake $100 bill.

“It’s really unfortunate that individuals are kind of stooping to this level,” said Van Hatziyianis, the owner of Bahia Bowls.

FMPD says it’s likely more businesses in the area were hit.

Rich Kolko, WINK News Safety & Security Specialist, says using this form of counterfeit cash is not uncommon, and there are ways to catch it.

β€œYou get a bill like this, it’s not going to look right,” Kolko said. β€œIt’s not going to feel right. You’re going to see some fuzzy print on it. You really need to check for the security strip. Check that the dollar bill or the hundred-dollar bill looks legit. It takes an extra second but can help protect you as a business person.”

Both Bahia Bowls and Scoops on First told us they are no longer accepting $50 or $100. The owner of Bahia Bowls told us it’s unfortunate because it’s likely going to be an inconvenience for some customers. But it’s something they have to do to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.

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