Abel Everson says he walked into a Yelm Walmart to cash a few checks and walked out with five fake $100 bills. The United States Secret Service is taking a particular interest in the case.
"I’ve always cashed my checks at Walmart, never had a problem," said Everson. "I pretty much just took it for granted."
Everson cashed three checks at the store last week totaling more than $800. He said it wasn’t until he left the store, and came back to buy a money order, that he noticed something was wrong with several $100 bills.
"Something looked off on it," he said. "The portrait of Benjamin Franklin wasn’t crisp like it should have been. And that’s when I pulled another one out. The two serial numbers were identical."
Everson admits he was worried. $500 was equivalent to a week and a half of pay for him.
At first, Walmart employees doubted his story. Walmart said it has protocols in place to make sure counterfeit bills do not get into the system. But video surveillance helped support Everson’s story. Eventually, Walmart officials changed their minds when they realized the fake money may have gotten into their cash office. They replaced the $500 two days later.
Yelm police explained how the bills may have gone undetected when it came into the store.
"Once those bills were weighed, they weighed the same amount as five $100 bills," said Yelm police officer Joel Turner. "And that’s one way of checking for counterfeit bills. The weight was right."
The Secret Service said an estimated $100,000 in counterfeit money is reported in the Seattle area each month, but it is very unusual to find five fake $100 bills all together. It usually means the source of that fake money is nearby.
The Secret Service said it will take a closer look at the case. Everson said he’s learned to pay closer attention.
"If I would have checked the money then and there, it wouldn’t have been a big deal," he said.
A spokesperson for the Yelm Walmart said this appears to be an isolated case.