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Can a merchant confiscate a counterfeit bill?

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  • Can a merchant confiscate a counterfeit bill?

    I'm not asking if they should (most don't want to risk an incident), I'm just asking if they can. Both times we've had people trying to pass funny money the merchant has confiscated the merchandise, but let the perp take their bill back. If its counterfeit, why not take the bill also?

    The only thing I can think of is the person could say they didn't know it was fake and wanting it back to take to the bank. Which never happens - they just walk out and take off.

  • #2
    http://smallbusiness.chron.com/happe...ney-22997.html

    According to this article, "...Do not give the counterfeit money back to the person who used it, counsels the Secret Service..."

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    • #3
      Thanks, Jim. As I've indicated in other posts, the place I work at is a bit weird - its all upscale, so nobody wants a confrontation or to disturb rich people while they shop, so they let most everything go. My first instinct would be to keep the money, so they don't pass it on. If they want it back, great - I'll give it to the police and you can ask the cop to give it back to you, lol.

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      • #4
        Yep. Seize and notify LE. Do not return it. Let them throw a tantrum. If they spread more of them, AFTER being told, then they can be charged... Let that soak in.

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        • #5
          At the risk of sounding obvious, keep in mind that someone can accidentally use a counterfeit bill (it happened to my dad; he didn't remember where it came from, and he doesn't counterfeit money or associate with shady people). Keep in mind that just because an item may be illegal doesn't mean that you as a merchant can legally confiscate it. It may be counterfeit, but it still belongs to the shopper.

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          • #6
            I'm trying to imagine circumstances where you would tell me that I'm handing you a counterfeit bill that I wouldn't call the police myself

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            • #7
              Probs are:

              1)SS is not gonna compensate you or back you up if things go south. Neither are the cops, The Fed or anyone else.

              2)Unless you would qualify as a Court recognized expert it is only in your UNQUALIFIED opinion that it MIGHT be Phunny Money. If its so bad you notice it casually, its not gonna go far.

              3)I'm guessing less than 10% of bad bills discovered are discovered while being passed by a guilty person.

              4)Unless you are a bank teller behind armor do you really want to risk a bad reaction when you tell someone you've decided to play Jr G-man and seize their assets? I'm guessing most bad bills are seized from low class, struggling, violent, unbalanced people, and the seizure puts them at risk for stuff like Eviction, etc.

              5)Look at it from their side. Unless they want to wait HOURS (days?) for cops to show up (even then, how many cops are able to detect decent counterfeit?) how do they know you aren't running a scam? No reward for turning in bad bills, for anybody.

              IMO, the best thing to do would be refuse the bill and MAYBE point out your SUSPICIONS. If they react as anything but dumbfounded, CURIOUS and apologetic, THEN call the cops.

              Remember, YOU are not the one who decided to make money easy to counterfeit.

              Probably the most central part of Security Creed is "You are not cops, you protect CLIENT, not The Public".

              My State required training says Security Guards are not allowed to touch stuff when INSPECTING lunch boxes, and we are NOT allowed to physically recover items out of an employee's open pickup bed. IIRC there is minor exception for store merch, but ONLY the merch, nothing else.

              I'd guess your employer's UNDERWRITERS (the real real bosses here) would probably say "if it COULD be real money, and under $500, take the money and relay your suspicions to the accounting dept, and let them set further policy". Store will take the loss, but earn Brownie Points with cops and Govt, and deduct loss.

              It costs a lot of real money when a "scene" happens at checkout, from about dozen diff directions including fuzzy stuff like "how many GOOD shoppers will avoid store in future due to ghetto scene", and lots of risk to the Deep Pocket when their employees start doing Law Enforcement off the reservation stuff.

              In Security, you are just as likely if not more likely to be fired, sued, attacked, imprisoned for doing your job than not doing your job, and UPPER management doesn't want you to "do your job", just look like you MIGHT do it.


              Script for my next bad "caper/heist" movie will be basically:

              a)locate a bunch of bills whose serial numbers can be read.

              b)claim they are counterfeit and you are seizing them to turn over to LEOs. Make a show of taking down #s with reliable witness, etc.

              c)replace seized real money with counterfeit with matching serial #s, since just printing numbers on bills should be easy.

              d)works great except some smart person detects the #s were printed recently, and the bills had been "on ice" for some time prior.

              e)but still uncertain WHO in the chain switched the bills, but now the crooks are in a race to launder their bills.

              Last edited by Squid; 12-08-2017, 04:27 PM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Squid View Post
                [..]
                Probably the most central part of Security Creed is "You are not cops, you protect CLIENT, not The Public".
                [..]
                You make a very good point. Security guards (and retail workers) are not out to protect the retail industry as a whole from counterfeiting; they're there to protect their store from it. If you see that the money is counterfeit and you pass it back while informing them it's counterfeit (of course, suggesting that they were "innocent" and didn't know it was counterfeit themselves) you're protecting your store from counterfeiting with minimal disruption.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Consolewatcher View Post

                  You make a very good point. Security guards (and retail workers) are not out to protect the retail industry as a whole from counterfeiting; they're there to protect their store from it. If you see that the money is counterfeit and you pass it back while informing them it's counterfeit (of course, suggesting that they were "innocent" and didn't know it was counterfeit themselves) you're protecting your store from counterfeiting with minimal disruption.
                  Around SF most Store Security is there for one thing and one thing only, to protect the store EMPLOYEES.

                  I vaguely recall a semi-famous (among guards) case of IIRC a Walgreens guard arresting some guy who was trying to make off with huge grab of pills, and he was fired for making the bust. Policy was "no LP arrests by guards".

                  Obviously, seizing customer's currency on the SUSPICION its counterfeit would be way out of bounds, and in SF wouldn't shock me if the guard got charged with armed robbery using the logic that:

                  1)Guard had zero legal authority to seize anything or make any determination.

                  2)Therefore, even if bills ARE counterfeit, the Guard still committed the crime of Armed Robbery, and for his sentence Court must view it as if he did a Armed Robbery of face value of bills.

                  3)This is just like "If your client tells you to take what he says is stolen property out of an employee's open pickup bed YOU would be committing Theft regardless of if client was right".


                  Soper, "Yep. Seize and notify LE. Do not return it. Let them throw a tantrum. If they spread more of them, AFTER being told, then they can be charged... Let that soak in."

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Soper View Post
                    Yep. Seize and notify LE. Do not return it. Let them throw a tantrum. If they spread more of them, AFTER being told, then they can be charged... Let that soak in.
                    This is got to be the dumbest thing I've ever read on this form.

                    I've never worked Security in a place where taking money from the public was any part of what we did. But I would be willing to bet that for instance if you're security at Walmart they already have a written policy of what you will do if someone tries to pass a counterfeit bill.

                    So the proper answer is "You will follow company policy to the letter." OR you contact your supervisor and you let him make the call. OR EVEN BETTER you let the client employee that took the money make the determination what they want to do and you made damn sure you document it

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                    • #11
                      Since I'm LE, and you're not, you would be the one making the dumbest post. Since guards aren't handling money, the question was general. You are obviously so uninformed about things that I'm amazed you actually have a job.

                      You and some other guards on here keep posting such dreck that it exemplifies the term Guard. Your skill level is standing post on a pile of dirt.

                      You keep harping about how mean I am, yet the truth hurts, doesn't it. You, squid, and a few others continually spew stupidity on here, and think you are the end-all, be-all of security.

                      You're not. You are laughed at all frigging day...

                      You our can go now, I'm done with you.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Soper View Post
                        Since I'm LE, and you're not
                        No ​​​​​​you're not

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Soper View Post
                          You keep harping about how mean I am,
                          No I harp about how stupid you are

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