Counterfeit $20 bills plague Winston-Salem bars

by Britt Chester

(A screen grab from the security cameras shows the three persons of interest standing near the bar.)

On Friday night, Bull’s Tavern, located at 408 West Fourth Street in downtown Winston-Salem, unknowingly was on the receiving end of counterfeit $20 bills…12 of them.

Danielle Bull, owner of Bull’s Tavern, was tending bar that evening alongside several other of her employees.

“Three individuals came into the bar around midnight,” Bull said. “One appeared to be a couple and the other was a single man.” She explained that the three, according to security cameras located around the bar, appeared to be “sizing the place up” for a few minutes before approaching the bar.

The three individuals are described as African-American aged between 21 and 35. One gentleman had dreadlocks pulled back. One gentleman had short, dark hair and was wearing the glasses. The female had shoulder-length hair.

Over the course of 42 minutes, Bull said that the three people in the video managed to pass off 12 counterfeit $20 bills totaling $240 of counterfeit money in her register. She is unaware of the exact amount of change the three persons of interest received, but she estimates it to be around $175.

“They were deliberately avoiding me and waiting at busier stations, although you can see in the video that I was not in the weeds the whole time they were here,” she said.

(The gentleman pictured with the arrow pointing to him is seen in the video leaving the moment Danielle Bull was notified of the fake currency he handed to the bartender.)

One of Bull’s bartenders happen to rub one of the $20 bills between her fingers and noticed it didn’t change color in the same way authentic bills do. She approached Bull with the bill, but before she could apprehend the person of interest, he bolted for the back door with the girl suspected to be his girlfriend. The third person of interest, according to the video, was in the bathroom at the time and did not know his friends had left. He walked aimlessly around the bar for a few minutes then left out the front door.

“We were so busy at the time that by the time police were called they were nowhere to be found,” Bull said.

Counterfeiting money is a federal offense and carries with it a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 20 years in prison.

Bull’s Tavern opened November of 2012, and to her knowledge, Bull has not seen counterfeit bills like this come across her bar. Nearly two years ago, though, she was on the receiving end of two counterfeit $100 bills, but her bar was not equipped with the high-definition cameras that she now has watching over the bar.

“I think the point I’d like to make is that being a sole proprietor, I take this very personally,” she added. Bull said that she also hopes to prevent this from happening to other bars in the area and is offering a reward for tips leading to the arrest of the people she believes to be suspects.

She filed a police report with the Winston-Salem Police Department immediately after finding being notified of the false currency, and handed over the counterfeit money.

Bull is offering a cash reward of $250 for tips leading to the arrest of the persons of interest. If you have any information, she said you may email her at, or call the bar at (336)331-3431.