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During my life I have encountered counterfeit bills a total of about three times. The thing that really stinks about that is that you can’t get it changed for proper currency. If you somehow end up with fake bills, the authorities will confiscate it and not provide you real bills in place. Ouch!
The first encounter I had time was when I was a kid. The local street bully asked me to go get a drink for him. Being the little punk that I was I took the money and promptly complied. When I tried to pay, the bodega owner slapped me on the head and threw the $20 bill at me. He didn’t say anything, he just told me to get out before he jumps over the counter and beats the crap out of me. I stood there confused, having no idea why he was so angry. “Que paso familia? Porque me diste en la cabeza?” I asked him in Spanish why he slapped me on top of the head!
Standing outside they store we heard the bully and his band of hooligans laughing at me. The owner realized that I was just an ignorant pawn, he round about apologized for slapping me and told me that those guys sent me in there with counterfeit money. He suggested that I should go out there and punch them in the face. I suppose he didn’t know the street hierarchy for Clarke Place in the Bronx.
The second time I encountered counterfeit money was not as eventful. I was paid for a tech job that I did for someone in cash, when I went to deposit the money the bank teller told me that they were counterfeit bills and had to be turned in to the police. I lost $200 that day. As I mentioned before, when you get duped like that, the bank doesn’t give you a refund. They keep the money for the police, you fill out a form and you are basically screwed for the amount of cash. The person I received the money from was a ghost, I knew that I’d be taking a loss. All I could do was to cease business relations with them because there was no way in hell that they’d reimburse me. That money was gone.
The most recent time was 2 days ago. I tried to use a $20 bill to pay for my food delivery. A few moments later the delivery guy knocked on my door again and said “this bill is fake man, take it back”. I told him it came out of an ATM, and that it should be legit. But he insisted that I give him another bill. “Ellos me lo quitan de mi pago”, they dock me for this. This guy was just doing his job, so I produced another bill from the same atm machine and asked him to examine it. He was pleased and moved on.
I separated the bill and decided I needed to confirm this. I tried to use the bill at various metro card machines. Rejected. I showed it to a store owner and asked him to examine it, he said “it’s fake”. So I got a crap bill. I took the bill to the place of origin that same day, the guy working there told me that I needed to speak with the boss, so I left.
This morning I went back and I saw the boss at the store. I approached him and I informed him that his ATM gave me a fake $20 bill. I asked him for a number to call so that I could get my money back. He immediately said “you didn’t get that here”, he assumed an evasive and defensive posture. I said, “my friend, I’m not here to make trouble for you over $20. I’m here to inform you of what happened and to make things right. Is there a number that I can call about this.” He said that he manually adds the money to the machine, and that he wouldn’t put in any fake money. He continued being evasive and avoiding my eyes and he said “I don’t want to lose customers. You didn’t get this here.”
I can see that this man is embarrassed and doesn’t want to acknowledge the fact that he messed up. Again I said “I’m not going to make trouble for you my friend.” I handed him the bill and told him, “take it, I can’t do anything with it. If this machine is supposed to detect counterfeit bills, then it is broken. Contact the company and work it out.” He told me he will look into it and get back to me, I agreed and left.
Will he get back to me? Probably not, but he knows my face, he lives in my building. I know he doesn’t want to lose $20 any more than I do. But the bill originated at his store, and he has to acknowledge it, and do something about. I’m sure the store has insurance to protect against things like this. My wallet does not! At some point I’ll ask him for the bill back so that I can report it to the authorities.
It’s not very common, but there are fake bills are out there. Have you ever fallen victim to counterfeit bills?
Growing Up Bronx