PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -

The Palm Springs police department is warning merchants about a rise in the use of counterfeit bills in Palm Springs.  Some business owners report $5 or $10 bills that have been bleached and modified to look like $50 and $100 bills.  "It's very frustrating, you know I would think that someone would have a better way to make money than taking money from other people," said Adam Page, the owner of Lappert's Ice Cream in downtown.  

Ron Wiener owns "The Right Stuff."  He's been hit a handful of times in the last year.  He says crooks often strike when the foot traffic's heavy.  "You know, you kind of feel like you've been used and abused so to speak," said Wiener.  

Lappert's Ice Cream got hit by fake twenties twice in the last week.  Page bought a counterfeit detector pen to make sure it doesn't happen again.  The ink turns brown on real money and black on fake paper.  But, he says even that's not enough these days.  "They usually take a five dollar bill, they'll bleach it, so that when you run that little pen on it, it comes up okay," said Page.  "So you really got to hold it up, and look for that little strip in the middle of it." 

The metallic strip on newer bills shows up when held to the light.  It's tedious and time-consuming for business owners to check, but it's better than the costly alternative.  "Check all of their bills, you can't trust that everyone's honest, because not everyone is," said Page. 

It's valuable advice not only for business owners but for anyone wants to avoid ending up with fake money.