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Left Holding the Fake Money Bag

After David Lipin of Los Angeles cashed a $1,000 Postal Service money order recently, he found himself in a tight spot.

A gas station clerk informed Lipin, 43, that his crisp $100 bills were fakes. “I was dumbfounded,” says Lipin, who has since dealt with a maze of law enforcement agencies.

Experts say recourse is unlikely for Lipin, who wound up with eight counterfeit $100 bills. That’s because it’s usually hard to prove exactly where the fake money came from.

“Unfortunately, it’s often the person who’s last holding the money who loses,” says Malcolm Wiley, a spokesman for the Secret Service, which investigates counterfeiting.

Don’t be a victim. Learn about currency security features on the Secret Service website. And always inspect bills before walking away from a transaction.

Michelle Diament is a frequent contributor to the AARP Bulletin.


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