The Denison Police Department has launched an investigation after two businesses in the same area received counterfeit bills in recent days.

Lt. Mike Eppler said at least one male suspect allegedly passed multiple bills at the Valero station and the CVS Pharmacy, on FM 120 on Dec. 29 and Jan. 1, respectively.

“Of course they happened just a block or two away from each other,” Eppler said. “The only similarity is that the suspect was a white male, but right at this point, we can’t say they’re connected.”

Eppler said in the Dec. 29 incident, the male suspect entered the gas station shortly after 9 p.m. and used two different denominations of counterfeit bills to purchase Texas Lottery scratch-off tickets.

“He went into the Valero station and wanted to purchase $43 worth of scratch off lottery tickets,” Eppler said. “He gave the money — a couple of $20s and three $1s — and grabbed the tickets quickly and walked out of the store.”

Shortly after the clerk received the money, Eppler said the man became suspicious of the bills’ authenticity and followed the suspect out of the store. But Eppler said the clerk could not confront him before he left the station in a four-door vehicle with an Oklahoma license plate.

Denison Police received their second report of counterfeit bills three days later when a man entered the CVS drugstore shortly after 5 a.m. Eppler said the man handed the cashier a $50 and sought change of equal value in smaller bills — a common method users of counterfeit money employ to authentic bills.

Although Eppler said the cashier complied with the man’s request, he believed the bills to be counterfeit and recorded the man’s license plate as he left the parking lot. Using the reported license plate, officers located and interviewed the man. Eppler said the man told officers he didn’t know the money was counterfeit. The man was not charged, but Eppler said investigators would continue their work.

“If a person knew that they were passing counterfeit money, then that’s one thing,” Eppler said. “If they legitimately did not know, then that’s different. But there’s only one way to know and that’s really just to investigate it.”

Eppler said upon receiving the reports, the department followed protocol and notified the U.S. Secret Service, which investigates the use of counterfeit bills. The Denison Police lieutenant said the Secret Service often leaves isolated cases of counterfeiting to local departments but added that printing, possessing or passing counterfeit bills are all felonies.

As for the public, Eppler advised anyone presented with possibly counterfeit bills to do his diligence and notify authorities if she believe the currency to be fraudulent.

“If you work for a store or business of some type, follow the company policy,” Eppler said. “And just inspect it. If it doesn’t feel right, it warrants closer inspection to see if the bill is really good or not.”