Walmart Customer Says Store Stuck Her With Bogus $100 Bill

Here’s a nice companion piece to this morning’s story about the Walmart employee who allegedly tore up two legitimate $100 bills claiming they were counterfeit. This afternoon’s tale is from a Walmart customer in Michigan who says the store gave her a bogus $100 bill and refused to take it back.

The woman was using her state benefits card at the store and chose to get $100 cash back, which Walmart gave her in the form of a $100 bill.

She says she then tried to use that same bill at a Menards, where the cashier figured out it was counterfeit with the assistance of a detection marker.

The woman tells WOOD-TV that she took the bill back to Walmart, where an assistant manager examined it but told her there was no way the store could give her a replacement since she had left the building.

“It’s frustrating, you know, ’cause you’re trying to take care of bills, trying to be a good citizen, and we’re getting the short end of the stick, literally. We are out $100,” says the customer.

As we’ve explained before, the person on the receiving end of a counterfeit bill is often stuck with it, especially if they don’t notice it until after leaving the spot of the transaction. However, there are several ways to detect a counterfeit before you walk out the door.

The woman tells the TV station that she’s now just trying to let people in her community know there are convincing fakes floating around.

“The bill could fool anybody” she explains. “Whoever is doing it is good. Just want people to know that it’s happening, today in Kent County right now. Be aware, be informed, watch your money.”

Police tell WOOD-TV that a pair of fake $20 bills had been passed at this same store last Friday.

Fake bill costs family $100

Thanks to Scott for the tip!


Edit Your Comment

  1. EP2012 says:

    Geeze people, take responsibility! Check EVERY BILL you get and make sure it’s not fake before leaving the store… you can’t always expect someone else to be looking out for your best interests.

    • Laura Northrup says:

      If people who handle cash all day can’t tell that it’s fake, how am I supposed to?

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        Good point.

      • menty666 says:

        Start bringing along a counterfeit pen to check your change before it goes into your pocket

        • MarkFL says:

          Counterfeit pens are next to useless. A lot of people bleach small bill bills and use them to print fake large bills. When I was at the bookstore, we sometimes got stuck with bills that weren’t detected until they were deposited at the bank, and you could easily see that they passed the pen test.

          What really helped was when we got a UV detector. This isn’t feasible when you’re the customer, but you can still hold the bill up to the light and check the watermark. A $100 bill should not have Lincoln’s face in the watermark. This won’t work with old bills, but those would be harder for a store or bank to detect, too.

          In any event, though, if you’re geting cash back, I’d recommend asking for nothing larger than a twenty.

          • Marlin says:

            Yea cause no one fakes $20’s…

            “Police tell WOOD-TV that a pair of fake $20 bills had been passed at this same store last Friday.”


            • msbaskx2 says:

              But at least then you’re just out $20, not $100.

            • Murph1908 says:

              -$100s are faked more often than other bills ( I believe).

              -Just because there happened to be fake $20s at the same store doesn’t mean you are better off taking a Benjamin.

              -Chances that all 5 20s were fake would be even rarer.

              So if you did happen to get those 2 fake 20s instead of the fake 100, you’re only out $40 instead of $100.

              His suggestion is valid. Does it eliminate all chance of receiving a counterfeit bill? No. But I believe it reduces your chances, and it definitely reduces your losses if you happen to get one.

            • Chuft-Captain says:

              Not the point. $20 fakes are less common, so yes they get faked, but not as often.

              the US $100 bill is the most counterfeited bill on the planet.

          • MarkFL says:

            Never said people don’t fake twenties. I’ve seen counterfeit tens. But it’s less likely, you’re out less money, and you’re not stuck with a bill that many retailers won’t accept even if it’s provably authentic. Also, if you get a fake twenty, it’s less likely to be caught if you unwittingly pass it on.

      • jebarringer says:

        Cashier at Menard’s apparently had no trouble.

      • GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

        Here’s some guides:

        In reality, it will take you at most a minute to run through the checklist for each bill.

      • Difdi says:

        My guess would be that they did know it was fake, and passed it on anyway. I wouldn’t put it past Walmart to punish a cashier who accepts a fake bill.

      • CRiley65 says:

        I’m a cashier at Walmart and handle cash all day. The reason we can’t tell it’s fake is BECAUSE we handle cash all day. A lot of times, we don’t have the time to check each and every bill that comes through. If we tried, we’d be so backed up we’d never get caught up. We have the added duties to make sure that each customer has a good shopping experience while also trying to make sure that they get all their stuff. On top of all that, we are also responsible for making sure that the customers PAY for all their stuff. Too many things are going on all at the same time. It’s just not possible. The customers have to take some of the responsibility, too. I’d like to be able to do it, but I’d have to be two or three people to do all of it.

        • makoto says:

          …..I am an operations manager who is responsible for ensuring cashiers DO check bills. There is no excuse for not checking any tender over $20. Use a pen, hold it up to the light. Laziness is not excuse. It’s one thing if its a good counterfeit. When in doubt, I turn the bill down and direct the customer to seek the assistance of a bank to verify (which is almost never because counterfeits are pretty identifiable with money markers and spot checks in the light). You aren’t doing your job if you aren’t checking. And in case you think I’m being bratty, my boyfriend worked as a CSM for Walmart for several years and his cashiers always were responsible for checking. You are the medium employed for this purpose.

        • euph_22 says:

          How often do you get $50s and $100s? Would taking 5 seconds to check the bill really bury you?

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      If I had to put that much effort into questioning every level of my existance, I would probably go insane and come to the irrational conclusion that everyone needs to be put out of their misery.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      I can’t wait until I get tackled by some pissed off person behind me in the checkout line because I’m staring at my change.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      The people who routinely do these bill checks should be the ones responsible for making sure the bills they handle are genuine. They are the ones with the magic bill checking pens. They should be using them both for incoming AND for outgoing. Every cashier should check every bill in their drawer when they open.

      • AustinTXProgrammer says:

        The pens are a scam.. They can false alert on bills that have been exposed to starch in the laundry and they won’t detect any bills printed on starch free paper (typically bleached ones).

    • who? says:

      I’m not obsessive compulsive enough to check every single bill as I receive it from a cashier. I’m also not obsessive compulsive enough to read 56 page end user agreements when I install software. And I managed to rent a car last week that only had 3/4 tank of gas, and not realize it until I was out of the parking lot and on the road.

      In other words, I’m a normal human being, not an obsessive compulsive automaton.

      • sufreak says:

        You dont read EULAs?! For shame!
        Seriously. Out of the hundreds of thousands of bills that will pass through our hands in our lifetimes, I will not be spending an iota of a second checking for counterfits. I will, however, just request nothing larger than 20s from anything other than a bank.

    • dollym100 says:

      So how long have you worked for Walmart?

    • Mr Joshua says:

      Crap !! I call BS on your response.

      There is something very wrong with the system when people can’t assume the money given to them by a “reputable store ” (and I use the word loosely) is legit. Screw Wall-Mart. How the hell can an old age pensioner be expected to know what is and is not legit.

      They have screwed the US shopping experience and now these SOBs are down here in Brazil screwing up the Brazilian shopping experience. They bought one of the country’s largest hyper-mart chains a few years ago and have proceeded to turn it into a shopping $hithole.

  2. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I can’t even remember the last time I SAW a $100 bill.

    • Laura Northrup says:

      A few years ago, I was taking $600 or so out of my account at one bank and depositing it in my checking account at the bank a mile away. I asked for a cashier’s check, but they just gave it to me in cash. They included a few $100 bills. I was very nervous. I don’t know how people carry that much cash around regularly.

      • who? says:

        I sold a car once, and the guy gave me $11,000 in cash, that I had to keep at home overnight until I could get to the bank. It was both thrilling, and scary at the same time. It was a big envelope of cash, just like in the movies.

        • matlock expressway says:

          Next time bring a briefcase handcuffed to your wrist.

        • Geekybiker says:

          I had a guy pay me $16k in cash for a car once. I threw it up in the air and rolled around in it. I figured I should try it once while I had that much cash on hand.

          • Laura Northrup says:

            My elementary school collected a million pennies as a school project. We donated them to charity. They poured them into a sort of pool in the school courtyard and we got to roll around in them.

      • Crank says:

        $600 is chump change. I usually have close to a grand in my wallet. Because I can.

        The rules of carrying cash:
        Never flash the full wad of cash, even when paying a cashier.
        Never look like you have money. No jewelry, no designer clothes, preferably drive a beater car.
        Never look afraid; try to look as confident as if you had a large caliber handgun on your person.

      • quail20 says:

        Before banks offered free ATMs I’d easily carry $500 in cash for two-week long business trips. I know many business travelers who still do. There’s lots of places that don’t take credit cards.

        There’s also numerous people out there who don’t trust banks and don’t believe in credit cards. They carry a good $200 on them at all times. More if they’re going out shopping.

    • MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

      And this is a good reason not to take one from a retail outlet. (A bank, maybe, but even ATMs usually give out $20 bills.)

      • pegasi says:

        I know of some that give out larger denominations… like at casinos for example, or at the scrap metal recycler. but those are exceptions.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      Someone has to be the first:

  3. psm321 says:

    I wonder how the person in the earlier article who felt that checking your own bills when you get them back makes you a jerk feels about this story.

  4. Costner says:

    So now we need to carry around one of those pens that helps us detect fake currency? No thanks. I’ll just continue paying with my debit card instead.

    Plus – if I did need to get cash, I wouldn’t accept anything larger than a $20. At least with 20s the risk is minimized because if one is fake I’m only out $20 – but if $50 or $100 is fake then I’m out… well I think you can do the math.

    • Laura Northrup says:

      Those pens are helpful, but not foolproof.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        If the pen says negative, then likely other retailers are going to accept the bill anyway!

    • rookie says:

      six dollars???

    • GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

      No, just look for basic things, like watermark, security strip, color changing in the lower right corner, yellow numbers on the back, red and blue fibers, and microprinting. Even the BEP makes a handy little pamphlet that will help you.

      Study a $20 you have in your pocket now, and you will see most of the features I mention.

    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      I work retail and sometimes have the role of cashier foisted upon me. Even if there are $100’s or $50’s, I won’t give them as change precisely because of this. A retail establishment can take the hit and has the tools to figure out who it was that handed off the fake bill but the average person doesn’t have the tools to figure out a fake bill.

      • Coleoptera Girl says:

        And by all this, I mean a well-done fake bill. :/

      • Republicrat says:

        Cash by its nature is anonymous so I’m not sure how you’re going to determine who gave you a fake bill unless you’re pulling security camera footage and hoping that he shows up in the store again so you can call the police.

        • humphrmi says:

          In 1981 I took a counterfeit class while working at a Domino’s Pizza carry-out location. This was before we had pens or even notes that had anti-counterfeiting marks, so our only option was to take the bill and wait until the next day when the bank told us it was fake. The class taught things like:

          1. Remember who gives you 100’s and 50’s. Note their face, clothing, car, etc.
          2. Which way did they leave? Did they go to other businesses?
          3. Did they have companions? What did they look like? Did the companions go to other businesses?
          3. Did they make small talk? What did they talk about? Did they talk about anything they were going to do that night?
          … etc …

          Yeah, it’s not possible to tag someone who makes a concerted effort to remain anonymous, but with some basic observations it’s possible to build some basic identification marks.

    • MuleHeadJoe says:

      I can’t imagine life without Benjies … not that I regularly have them in my wallet / pocket, but on various special occasions it’s definitely a blast to pull a wad of high denomination bills out in public.

      Seriously tho, that’s a rare occasion – very rare. Here’s something a little more reality-like: if I sell a car or somat expensive-worth via private party transaction and I don’t personally know the other party, I ain’t takin a check (cashier’s or personal) as those are FAR more likely to be fake than a handful of Benjies.

      And regarding getting a ringer via cashback at the store … it may just be the neck of the woods I live in, but most retail shops here put all bills over 20 into a non-clerk-accessible drop box immediately so it doesn’t sit in the cash drawer gettin stale and attracting flys/robbers. Heck, for most stores it doesn’t even HIT the cash drawer … I’ve paid with 50s & 100s at various stores, they holdem up to the light, scan it with UV, run their pen over it and give me the ol’ squinty-eyed dirty look before accepting it … then they slide that puppy right into the drop slot. Soooo … I would be hesitant to accept a large-denomination bill in change from a run-of-the-mill retail shop, no good can come from it. On the other hand, if it’s a store that traditionally handles very large sums of cash (e.g., a pawn shop) then I’d prolly be cool widdit.

  5. donjumpsuit says:

    around and around it goes, where it stops, nobody knows. …. unless you have that black little streak on it.

  6. KnightCrusader says:

    WOOD-TV? Sounds like a scrambled premium channel…

  7. rookie says:

    i made a comment on a website that i THOUGHT was the consumerist, but, it was counterfeit…
    I even used the pen to check it and all…
    Luckily for me, the manager ripped it up and gave me five small consumerist websites in return…

  8. SirWired says:

    This is one of those unfortunate cases with no good answer. For obvious reasons, few stores will agree to just take your word for it when you return hours later claiming they gave you a fake bill.

    Sometimes crime victims are simply left “holding the bag.”

    But yeah… I’d never accept a $100 bill as a consumer. There are few uses for $100’s where five $20’s won’t do the trick, and counterfeiting of $20’s is far less common.

    • MarkFL says:

      Besides which, a lot of places won’t accept bills larger than a twenty anyway, so even if the bill is good it can be an inconvenience.

    • CRiley65 says:

      Actually, $20’s are more counterfeited than you think. Thieves counterfeit the 20’s because there’s not as much question about their authenticity as there are 100’s. Few places will use the pen on 20’s–but a lot of them do for the $50’s and $100’s.

  9. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    Print 5 twenties, take a black magic marker, the label from a counterfeit detection pen, and check your fake bills whilst handing them over.


  10. balderdashed says:

    It’s true that this Walmart customer is out $100, and as a matter of law, she should be. But that said, Walmart presumably provides its cashiers with the tools and training they need to spot fake currency and avoid recirculating it — or in any case, they should. Even if the company bears no legal responsibility, Walmart appears to have failed here, in a way that caused great hardship for a customer. Walmart is certainly not required to reimburse the customer for the $100 that resulted from its mistake, but there is also no law preventing it from doing so. If I were the customer, I’d make doggone sure that this matter cost Walmart a lot more than $100. Menards spotted the bill as fake; why didn’t Walmart? Think about it: if Walmart cashiers can’t tell a real bill from a fake one, and might just hand you a fake one on your next shopping trip, do you want to shop at Walmart? That’s message this incident sends, and I’d make sure it was as widely distributed as possible.

    • dullard says:

      I don’t agree that the customer is out the $100 as a matter of law. If the customer chose to sue Walmart, and could convince the judge or jury that the bill was given to her by Walmart, then Walmart would eat the $100. It’s a question of fact.

      On the other hand, I see Walmart’s position. After the customer leaves the store Walmart has no way of knowing whether she obtained the bill from them or elsewhere. Even if she had not left the store but had left the cashier’s desk, Walmart would have no way of knowing if the customer had switched bills.

    • CRiley65 says:

      Try checking out as many customers as I–or any of us–do on a daily basis. You’ll find out pretty quickly that there is little time to check each bill–even if they’re 50’s or 100’s. Walmart is not some mom-and-pop store where you might on a good day have 50 customers. I go through more than that a lot of times in the first half of my shift.

  11. ChuckECheese says:

    Walmart quite commonly gives large bills to customers when they cash checks or take debit card withdrawals. I always tell them at the beginning of the transaction I want nothing larger than $20s. Sometimes they insist, and then I stop the transaction and ask for a manager.

  12. ancientone567 says:

    Just do what everyone else does and hand the fake off to someone else lol. This is what Walmart did to you regards of what they say.

    • Bill19014 says:

      I don’t like to think of it as “handing the fake off to someone else”. I prefer to call it “do-it-yourself quantitative easing”.

  13. dibarnu says:

    She was allowed to leave the second store with the suspected counterfeit bill? It sounds like they aren’t trained too well either. She should never have been given the bill by Walmart and Mendards should not have let her leave the store with it.

    I’m not blaming the OP, although it may sound like it… but at this point, leaving Menards with the bogus bill, I’d have tried to pass it somewhere else. I sure as hell wouldn’t go back to Walmart and say “hey you gave me a counterfeit bill.” I might have tried buying a small item there to break it, since they didn’t catch it as counterfeit the first time who’s to think they’d catch it the second time?

    • MBZ321 says:

      “I’m sorry mam, this bill has been flagged” “Huh?” “It’s been in the bathroom”.

      Seriously, that is a horrible idea to go back and try to buy something with the counterfeit bill. If the cashier actually sees that it is phony, he/she is going to have a lot of splainin’ to do. And I don’t think, “I got this bill here yesterday” is going to fly to well with the police, even if it is the truth.

  14. who? says:

    I got a counterfeit $5 once. No idea where it came from. I didn’t realize it was fake until I tried to use it in a vending machine, and the machine rejected it. When I looked at it more closely, I realized it was clearly fake.

    I passed it off on Starbucks. I figured it was only a $5, and it was good enough that they were unlikely to notice. I was right.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      quarters don’t have serial numbers and are easy to make; It’s just too bad the dollar coins aren’t more common.

  15. Bort says:

    I understand walmarts position, once you leave the store you could swap the bill and claim you got the counterfeit from walmart when you didn’t so they are protecting themselves here. However this policy puts the burden on the customer who doesn’t have a counterfeit detection device so in essence they pawn their own liability off on the customer (as just about any profit obsessed business does).
    Perhaps they should have a customer facing detection device and make it store policy that anything above a $20 has to be put through it before giving it out. Or they could record serial numbers of what they give out so if a customer comes back they know the bill did in fact come from them. Neither of these will ever happen, walmart has no reason to spend 1 cent to make sure the customer is not ripped off, their goal is to make sure they don’t get ripped off.

    • dks64 says:

      You don’t need a counterfit pen to tell if it’s real or not. Hold it up to the light, look for the President’s head (watermark), the strip, tilt the bill for color shifting ink, and see if the President’s shirt has texture. It takes 10 seconds, tops, and can save you $100.

  16. AttackCat says:

    I’m shocked (shocked, I tell you) that nobody has commented yet about the fact that she was getting cash back from a state benefits card.

    • Damocles57 says:

      Some states pay unemployment payments through such cards, tax refunds, and other forms of cash transactions that would wind up on such a card.

      Besides, other people were probably focused on the core issue of the post – a fake $100 bill – and were not so easily distracted by extraneous and irrelevant information.

    • RayanneGraff says:

      So am I. I figured the comments would be full of snide comments to the effect that she somehow deserved it for being poor & daring to draw benefits, or that she didn’t really lose any money because it was all “free money” to begin with. I’m pleasantly surprised & impressed, consumerist commenters :D

  17. MarkFL says:

    See my comment above about the uselessness of the pens.

    We used to just refuse to take the bills if we suspected anything. If we had a bad bill at the end of the shift when we were counting the drawer we’d call the police — not to accuse anyone, just to let them know and get the bill out of circulation. The bank wouldn’t accept it anyway, so we weren’t really losing money by calling the police. But one time the police told us that there were a bunch of bad bills in the area that apparently all were traced back to a local bar, so we knew to be extra careful.

    And here’s an oddity: One time we refused a bill because it just looked “wrong.” It was not a hundred, or a fifty, or even a twenty or ten. It was a TWO-dollar bill.

    • AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:

      I may be missing what you were trying to say in your last line there, but I feel compelled to point out that a two-dollar bill is legitimate currency.

      (Assuming that particular one wasn’t counterfeit.)

      • MarkFL says:

        Just saying that a $2 bill is an odd thing to counterfeit. When I said it looked wrong, I meant phony. Not because it was a $2 bill, but it just felt like paper instead of linen, the picture didn’t look right, etc.

    • MuleHeadJoe says:

      erm … ALL two dollar bills look ‘wrong’ if you axe me … ;-)

  18. JollySith says:

    Walmart did nothing wrong here either morally or legally. Most good fake bills pass through dozens of not hundreds of hands before they are caught. Lw and society say the last one to hold it before it is detected eats the cost. The only player in this tale that didn’t do right was the me adds that returned the fake to her. They are required to hold and turn in the bill to the treasury

  19. scoutermac says:

    I once went to a Fifth Third Bank located in a Kroger. I went to the ATM in front of the counter and took a $20 bill out of my checking account. Then I took it to the counter and asked for $20 in quarters. The teller then checked it to make sure it was real. My response was “I just took that out of the ATM, if it is not real then I want my $20.”

  20. PBallRaven says:

    1: When getting cash back, I always ask for $10 bills.

    2: the cashier likely got it earlier in the day, and though “Oh frack, I took a fake 100” and then took the chance to give it off to the first person they could.

    • euph_22 says:

      You think the cashier out after the fact that the bill was fake? Spontaneously, while its Sitting in the till?

      And their reaction isn’t “oh, i should tell my boss”, or “I’ll just leave this in the register. They won’t track it to me.” It’s, “i need to unload this to the first person i see” (assuming they Are the only person receiving over $100 in cash out of my till today).

      Have you talked to somebody about paranoia?

      • HomerSimpson says:

        Yeah, they’re going to tell their boss, whose likely response will be “How can you be such a damned idiot? YOU’RE FIRED!”

        • euph_22 says:

          And then you respond with “you’re sued.” Depending on how Walmart changes out the tills, you could claim it was in there at the start of your shift.

          I really like the part where you just pick ONE of the two options I mentioned, ignoring the “just leave it in the till and nobody will find out” option.

          You also ignored everything else I said. Because their is no way the cashier would suddenly realize the bill is fake. And It’s incredibly likely somebody would be receiving over $100 from your till.

  21. Press1forDialTone says:

    Yeah their are a lot of convincing fakers out there and one of them is Wal-Mart.

  22. sendmoney2me says:

    Strip club! I always pass off my counterfeits at strip clubs…it’s too dark in there to check the money! lol Only problem is I leave with either lots of singles…or none..depending upon how long i stay after i get the change! lol

  23. JF says:

    This reminds me of a time I had a manager freak out on me thinking I took a fake $100. It took me and 3 other employees to finally convince him the bill was real. It was back when the government first started changing the bills about 15 years ago. Kinda sad that at 17 I knew about the change and he was clueless.

  24. kataisa says:

    Why are stores using pens to detect counterfeit money anyway? They don’t work.

    I was taught to hold a bill up to the light and look for the watermark and security thread. This is much more effective to spot counterfeit money.

  25. shifuimam says:

    Am I the only person who sees a serious problem with allowing state welfare recipients to get *cash back* with their state benefits cards? The whole point is to make sure recipients are not using the money for illicit purposes (drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc.). How does it make sense that you can get cash back?

    • nolitt242 says:

      because sometimes its easier to pay bills in cash? i had to use cash to get gas when i was on unemployment…it doesn’t mean i was out doing drugs.

    • euph_22 says:

      That is not the whole point of the cards. The point is to reduce the costs of distributing multiple classes of benefits (as well as better control what non-cash benefits like EBT are spent on). Michigan provides myriad cash benefit programs on the Bridge card (in addition to EBT and other non-cash support programs).

      Besides, I don’t know about you but my apartment building doesn’t have a credit card reader out front for me to swipe my rent.