You go to the bank to get money. You go somewhere to use that money to pay some bills and find out it’s counterfeit. So are you out of luck or does the bank have to replace it? It’s why one woman called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

A new year is a time for new hopes, high expectations, excitement at what’s ahead. Forgive Gloria Calderon she is a little down.

Gloria Calderon: “Angry I call the police and report with the police.”

Gloria went to this Chase bank in Doral where she has a savings account.

Gloria Calderon: “I went to the bank and take out the 5,000.”

She says she then drove straight to this Citibank with the $5,000 cash to deposit into a checking account to pay her property taxes. The teller delivered words no one wants to hear:

Gloria Calderon: “Bills are fake.”

Since Gloria isn’t confident in her English, she called her son John to come help her.

John Calderon: “And as soon as she gave the bills to the lady the envelope there were fake bills in there I guess they went in there checked there were $1,300, 13 bills of 100 fake.”

Thirteen of the 50 hundred dollar bills were fake $1,300 of the 5,000 was immediately seized by the Citibank teller.

Gloria Calderon: “The bank take the money to send to secret service, make the report for each.”

Gloria and John rushed straight back to the bank where she got the bills to try to get them to refund the 1,300 that had been seized.

Gloria Calderon: “I come back to Chase but the manager and the teller say me ‘It’s your problem. When you go outside the bank is your problem.'”

Gloria was upset and called the police. Again a dead end.

Gloria Calderon: “And report with the police but all time the people say ‘it’s your problem. You lost the money.”

The secret service investigates counterfeit bills. John called them. Same response as the police and the banks.

John Calderon: “Too bad. You lost your money. You are on your own.”

Gloria says losing $1,300 was the worst part. But John says being treated like crooks instead of a victim was painful as well.

John Calderon: “They told my mom she probably changed the bills on her way there or they weren’t not even nice at the Chase afterwards. They were being rude like we were stealing for something, like we changed the bills! That is what got me more angry.”

Well Howard, if a teller gives you fake bills and you walk out of the bank, can they bank say ‘We aren’t responsible?’

Howard Finkelstein: “Sadly, yes. A counterfeit bill is like the game of hot potato we played as a kid, meaning whoever is holding the bill when it’s determined to be fake is stuck with it. And you would think a bank should be required to determine if bills are counterfeit before they hand them out, but legally they are not.”

A Chase representative told us the bills they hand to customers are placed in machines that will detect if they are fake. When we asked why Gloria says she was given fake bills, we were told they dont know; that would be speculation, but they are not replacing the $1,300 she lost.

A secret service representative told us a lot of visitors from other countries are given counterfeit bills in the black market in their country — that many fake bills show up in places like Doral with a large Venezuelan population. He added, many of the fake bills are so good, they pass tests to detect them.

Howard Finkelstein: “If you get large bills from anyone, check them for texture, color and the quality of the paper. If anything looks or feels different, ask for another bill or smaller bills or a cashiers check from a bank instead of bills.”

It’s a terrible start for the new year for Gloria and losing $1,300 would be a tough blow for anyone.

John Calderon: “I don’t know whenever you go to the institution you don’t check the bills because you trust the institution.”

Now Howard mentioned if you walk out of a bank with counterfeit bills, you are stuck. It’s the same as if you walk out of any business with phony bills: You are out of luck. One suggestion: if you have homeowner’s insurance, many policies will cover a portion of your loss. That didn’t help gloria because she does not have homeowner’s insurance.

A phony left you fuming? Don’t counter with a fit. Cash in with you. You dont need to break off any Benjamins when you meet us. We are free.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser 7News.

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