BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WECT) - People who thought cash just appearing on a Bladen County roadway was too good to be true were right.
According to a news release from Bladen County Sheriff James A. McVicker, nearly $35,000 in counterfeit money was recovered by Bladen deputies and White Lake police on Sunday morning in the 9000 block of Hwy. 701 North.
"My first reaction was my chief deputy told me Monday morning we had good news he had located $34,000 and I was sort of excited about that until he told me it was counterfeit," he said.
McVicker said dispatch received numerous calls of people picking up bills in several denominations on the highway, to the point that it impeded traffic.
A total of $34,465 in fake US currency was collected by officers. People gathering money were gone by the time police arrived on the scene.
"We have no idea how much of this fake money was picked up before law enforcement was notified and arrived on the scene," he said.
"We have no idea where the money came from," McVicker said in Monday's release. "We have notified the US Secret Service for assistance and will continue to investigate."
McVicker said his detectives are working with the US Treasury Department as well.
McVicker said some of the bills were obviously counterfeit, but some were more sophisticated and could have passed for real currency if the person taking the money was not alert. Some of the bills said "for motion picture use only." Others had Chinese writing on them. Both of these, the Sheriff's Office said, can be bought online. Others were homemade.
Anyone who picked up some of the counterfeit money should bring it to the Bladen County Sheriff's Office. McVicker is also urging local merchants to be particularly careful when accepting large denominations of currency. Look for watermarks on the bills to ensure they are real. If you're not sure if a bill is counterfeit, bring it to your local police department or bank, McVicker said.
"A lot of problems are grocery stores will hire young people to work the cashiers and I'm not sure they take the time to really use good common sense when they're looking at the money. I don't know a whole lot about it but I can detect counterfeit money this especially," he said.