Penny Rothschild is the owner of Emerald C Gallery, a Coronado shop that sells fine art, jewelry, glassware, leather goods and more.
On Monday afternoon, a man came into the shop asking about a wallet and an 18 karat gold cross.
“He ended up buying just the cross and it was $220 and change, and he gave me the three $100 bills. I gave him back close to $80 and change," Rothschild told NBC 7.
It wasn’t until she went to the grocery store Tuesday night that she realized the bills felt a little waxy. Rothschild mentioned it to the clerk who called a manager who checked the bill with a special machine.
Both she and the manager were surprised to find out the money was counterfeit.
“I was mortified because everybody kind of looked at me like I’m passing off counterfeit," she said.
Coronado police say two shops inside the Hotel del Coronado reported receiving counterfeit money over the weekend and on Wednesday, Bay Books, which is just down the street on Orange Avenue also reported a counterfeit transaction.
Police believe there may be more victims, and they are asking any other victims to report receiving counterfeit money to them.
“You never know, “Rothschild said, “This person looked like any customer who would have shopped in my store.”
She’s warning other business owners to be careful, but she only has one thing to say to the counterfeiter: “Bring back my cross,” adding, “How dare you.”
Rothschild said she’s grateful it wasn’t a more expensive piece of art, but she plans to buy a pen that detects counterfeit bills.
Another way to detect counterfeit money, according to the Secret Service, includes holding it up to the light to look for a holograph of the face image on the bill. Looking at the bill through a light will also reveal a thin vertical strip containing text that spells out the bill’s denomination.