FARMINGTON — The beer may have been good.

But the money used to pay for it wasn't.

A customer at Three Rivers Brewing Company paid using a counterfeit $20, John Silva, the brewery owner, said.

The business deposited a fake bill into its bank account and the bank reported the forgery to the business Thursday evening, Silva said.

The bill was likely used at the restaurant, pizzeria or tap room on Main Street in Farmington on Tuesday or Wednesday.

It was the first time the business ever learned it had been slighted money because of a fake bill, said Silva, who has owned the business since 1997.

Silva -- worried about local scam artists targeting businesses -- tried to quickly sound the alarm on the phony cash.

He reported the counterfeit on the company's Facebook page and he told police and other business owners on Thursday night.

"With these hard times, I think it's going to happen more," he said. "We need to help each other out."

He also stocked up on counterfeit-detecting markers for employees and printed off checklists they can follow to ensure the money they take is true.

The issue was brought up during staff meetings and employees will be looking for fake money, he said.

The counterfeit bill used this week appears fine to the untrained eye. Silva has pictures of the bill to use as a teaching tool. It appears the same as a real $20 but it's missing a small security strip on the left-hand side of the president side of the bill.


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"We're not FBI agents. If you weren't trained you couldn't tell" the difference, he said.

The United State Secret Service said on its website that people can check the accuracy of currency by examining the portrait, federal reserve and treasury seals, the border, serial numbers and paper.

In 2011, the agency reported it confiscated $154.7 million in counterfeit currency and made 2,471 arrests nationwide, according to its most recent annual report.

Farmington police Lt. Taft Tracy said the brewery was the only local business that has recently reported counterfeit money to police. But he advised business owners to be vigilant, because counterfeit money can appear in waves.

Portales police said 16 cases of counterfeit money being used have been reported to police in the southeast New Mexico town in the last three weeks, according to news reports.

"It's important for people to be vigilant about it," Tracy said. "It would be prudent for businesses to make sure employees are aware of" counterfeit currency.