Suffolk police said Tuesday that counterfeit bills were used for payment recently in at least four Port Jefferson businesses.
Sharon Zalinger, the owner of North Shore Interiors, a Port Jefferson interior decorating and furniture business on East Main Street, said a man came into her store on June 3 and paid for merchandise with a $100 bill.
He left with the merchandise and change, Zalinger said. She then noticed a white line and black writing on the bill and realized “there was something suspicious about it.”
Zalinger said she went to a neighboring store to check the bill with a marking pen and then contacted police.
“I’ve had this store 20 years and never had a problem before,” said Zalinger, of Setauket. “So it’s very aggravating for someone to take advantage of you like that.”
On June 7, a man attempted to pay with a counterfeit $100 bill at East End Shirt Company, said owner Mary Joy Pipe. An employee recognized the bill as fake and the man took off, Pipe said.
“It was extremely apparent that it was a fake bill,” she said. “The feel of it, you just knew. It felt like funny money.”
The store handed over the bill and surveillance photos to Suffolk police, Pipe said.
Suffolk police said they are investigating whether the incidents are connected, and the investigation is ongoing. Police did not provide information Tuesday on a possible suspect.
Susan Rodgers, owner of Susan Rodgers Designs — an artisan jewelry and craft store in Port Jefferson — said she hasn’t seen suspicious currency but she and her employees have been “a little more diligent” about checking their bills since hearing of the counterfeit money.
“We get $100s quite often in these stores. It’s not uncommon and I never think of checking it, but now definitely we will,” Rodgers said. “ . . . It’s just really sad because these are small stores. That could make or break your weekend, your income for the day.”
When Rodgers learned about the incidents, she alerted the Port Jefferson Retailers Association, a networking and troubleshooting organization for local businesses, so that other members could look out for fake bills.