Sheriff Issues Warning As Scammers Leave Fake Cash on Car Windshields

Police in Georgia have warned residents about a mysterious apparent scam in which counterfeit money is left on the windshields of parked cars.

Newton County Sheriff's Office said it had received "numerous reports" from residents who had been perplexed or concerned to find dollar bills left on their cars. At first, it might seem like these homeowners' lucky day, but police have warned that the "gift" is not all it appears.

According to the sheriff's office, the cash tucked under the windshield wipers is actually counterfeit. The cars are usually parked in their owners' driveway, it added.

"The counterfeit money will appear to look authentic, and may even feel authentic," said the sheriff's department in Covington, central Georgia.

It is warning local residents to be careful if they find money on their vehicles and to report the discovery. "We advise all citizens to not immediately approach their vehicle if they see something like this. Instead, call 911 and report suspicious activity," the department wrote in a social media post.

Despite multiple reports about the counterfeit money, Newton County Sheriff's Office is "unsure of the motive" and whether the bills are being left as a prank or as something more sinister.

Law enforcement authorities in various states have issued similar warnings in the past. There were a number of media reports about such cases in 2014, with claims that cash was being left on cars as part of a "distraction" theft plot.

The idea is that the motorist spots the cash on their windshield after sitting behind the wheel and then gets out to collect it, leaving the driver's door open and the engine running. The thieves, who have been lying in wait nearby, swoop and steal the car.

In November 2014, Karen Straughn, the Maryland assistant attorney general for consumer protection, told a local ABC affiliate she had been informed of such a case by a Baltimore County resident at a community meeting, although she had not seen a police report about the supposed incident.

Others have dismissed the idea as an urban legend, however.

There has been no confirmation from Newton County Sheriff's Office that the counterfeit money found in Georgia is connected to any car theft scam. Newsweek has contacted the sheriff's department for comment.

Similar incidents were reported in Ohio in December 2021. Local media coverage about cash left under windshields in Toledo failed to identify a reason for the mysterious Christmas gifts.