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Huntsville man on mission to warn local business owners about counterfeit bills

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Bob Wilson's wife was very sick last year. She spent two months in the hospital and about four in physical rehab. After home health care discharged Mrs. Wilson, Bob says he wanted to hire someone for continued help. So after fielding a few applications, he found the perfect housekeeper.

"I told her, 'you have two priorities: I want you to help us catch up on the housework, and I want you to talk and be companion to my wife," Bob told their new hired help.

Wilson says he has been able to see the positive health impacts the assistance and friendship has had on his wife.

y7JkoZLast week, Wilson says he made a trip to the bank to withdraw the cash he used to pay their housekeeper; usually in denominations of fifty or one-hundred dollar bills. Wilson says he paid his valued domestic employee like usual, but the next day she came back with a problem.

"At my wife's urging, she brought out this bill and said it turned out to be counterfeit; like, what?"

The housekeeper who Wilson and his wife have happily employed for six months said when we went to pay for gas using one of the fifty dollar bills she had been paid with, the cashier marked the bill, told her it was a fake, then handed it back to her.

Counterfeit bill protocol requires businesses to immediately seize the fake money in order to turn the matter over to the proper authorities, but that was not done in this case.

Wilson, who was admittedly just as confused as his housekeeper, wanted to make it right.

"So I said, 'I'll buy it back from you,' and I gave her a couple twenties and a ten and she gave me the bill."

Bob says he certainly wasn't going to lose his housekeeper over a measly 50 bucks, but he didn't stop there. He took the bill to some of his favorite post-work-day haunts in hopes of following through on an educational opportunity and a warning.

"It occurred to me that this is an excellent training tool. So I went to 1892 and The Nook, Straight to Ale Taproom and Guadalajara and I called the managers over and said, 'I'm going to have a beverage, and while I'm drinking my beverage, this is a training tool: show your staff what a counterfeit bill looks like.'"

Wilson says you can watch videos on how to detect counterfeit currency, but having a fake bill in your hand makes it real. Soon, Wilson was the most popular guy at the bar.

"Next thing we know about half the patrons at the bar were pulling out their wallets and checking their own money."

Of course, Wilson could have immediately gone to the bank or to police to turn the bill in, but he wanted to have more of an impact than that, he says.

"I want our community to be aware that someone's passing counterfeit currency around -- it's happening," said Wilson as he pulled the crack and creased bill from his front shirt pocket.

Wilson says Thursday, he turned the bill over to his bank and was told they would turn it into their fraud department for further investigation.

If you have concerns, click here for a video on detecting fake money you might find helpful.