WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Counterfeit money seems like something you'd see in the movies, but the funny money is far too often a reality.
The Secret Service said it removed $182 million in counterfeit money from the US and overseas in 2009. That's more than double what was seized in 2008.
Recently a Wilmington store that wished to remain anonymous said it received fake money good enough to fool a counterfeit bill marker and bank tellers before a money counting machine finally caught it.
Starway Flea Market manager Donald Simmons said his vendors deal mostly with cash, which makes them targets for counterfeiters.
"Ten and a half years, on two different occassions, I've been notified of counterfeit money going around, and actually received some myself in small amounts," Simmons said.
He said the first instance was pretty obvious, but the second time, the bills got better; a sign, perhaps, that counterfeiters are getting more creative even as the federal government continues to try and make currency harder to copy.
"The bills were very good quality counterfeit," Simmons said. "The only difference was that they more or less failed the marker test, but to the eye, they looked very very good."
Simmons said counterfeit money seems to come in waves.
"It really seems like if we get hit with it, and it gets passed around out here, you will hear of other businesses in that same time period that are getting hit with it also," he said. "I think most of the time, it probably comes in from out of town."
The Secret Service said there are a few key differences to look for, like a lifeless portrait, blurred borders and problems with the paper.
If you come across any counterfeit currency, you should contact the Secret Service immediately. The number in our area is (910) 313-3043.