Counterfeit bills being passed at Central Coast businesses

Police see spike in use of counterfeit bills

Counterfeit bills being passed at...

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The Santa Maria Police Department and the San Luis Obispo Police Department are reporting counterfeit bills being used at several area businesses.


The Santa Maria Police Department claims to have received multiple reports from businesses in the city saying fake $100 dollar bills were being passed in the area.

"Seems to be predominantly fast food restaurants is the main focus, go through the drive through, order a small amount a food, pass a $100 bill in hopes to get the change for it," Santa Maria Police Officer Max Shaffer said.  

Although the police department did not name any businesses affected, they say five bills were passed at one particular business. 

"The ones that are out there aren't very good, they're pretty easy to  tell, the texture is very different, the security strip that's in a $100 bill generally on these is more to the center than off to the left, wider and not inside the bill, it's printed on the outside," Shaffer said.   

"The suspect information at this time is two Hispanic males and one Hispanic female. The two vehicles involved are a beige Honda and a black sport utility vehicle." stated the Santa Maria Police Department.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to call the Santa Maria Police Department at 805-928-3781.

"You're robbing stores of money.. We know you're out there..we know you're doing it, any business you're going to try and pass money at does have surveillance video so just because you get away with it today doesn't mean you're going to get away with it tomorrow," Shaffer said. 


San Luis Obispo police say a woman tried to pass a counterfeit $50 bill at the Ulta Beauty in the 200 block of Madonna Road, but failed to do so after a store employee recognized the bill was counterfeit.

SLO police say the incident occurred at about 4:30 p.m. on March 24. During the attempted purchase, the $50 dollar bill failed the ink pen test administered by the store's employee.

The woman fled the store before police arrived on scene. She was described as a Hispanic woman in her mid to late 20's with brownish red hair and brown eyes. She is about 5 feet 4 inches tall and has a medium build, according to police. She also has tattoos on her neck and chest.

Authorities released two video surveillance images of the suspect hoping the community's help may lead to the suspect's identity or whereabouts.

Anyone with information on the Ulta Beauty incident is asked to call the San Luis Obispo Police Department at 805-781-7312.

For helpful tips on how to recognize counterfeit bills, visit

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