Counterfeit money that's harder than ever to detect is being handed out across Long Island, robbing local vendors of merchandise and real cash, officials said Wednesday.
"Counterfeiting has really spiked on Long Island," Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a news conference in Rockville Centre.
Also present were Rockville Centre Mayor Francis X. Murray and Police Commissioner Charles Gennario, representatives from the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce and local merchants.
"The use of counterfeit currency is not a victimless crime," Murray said in a statement. "Small business owners . . . have little or no recourse for recouping funds they lose through counterfeit activity."
Said Schumer: "The most heartbreaking thing is many of these people work hard and when they go to the bank, hundreds of dollars are not accepted."
Bogus bills with a face value of up to $3 million are believed to be circulating on Long Island -- up from about $2 million a few years ago, officials said.
Schumer said local businesses and officials have joined him in calling on the Secret Service to crack down on counterfeiters and their distributors. Recent victims include BJ's Wholesale Club on Hempstead Turnpike, Sally's Beauty Supply in Farmingville and a Hallmark store in Farmingville, Schumer said.
Rockville Centre police said that in the past two years there have been 37 reports of counterfeiting in the business district.
Three Uniondale High School students were arrested last month and charged with possessing counterfeit money and distributing the fake money on campus, Nassau police said.