Funny money strewn over highway

Traffic roared past Snoqualmie’s Exit 25 on Thursday morning, Dec. 4, as State Trooper Chris Hooper prepared to dart across the eastbound lanes on foot.

His destination: a soggy scattering of what appeared to be $20 and $50 bills, some of the hundreds of pieces of not-so-legal tender that Hooper had scooped from the damp shoulders of the eastbound lanes.

Washington State Troopers, with help from personnel with the Washington State Department of Transportation, were tipped off that morning by a Valley man who noticed something unusual spread all over the road. Brian Mattson was on his way home from his Seattle firefighting job when he saw what at first looked like roadside garbage or scraps of paper.

“They were all the same size and looked extremely similar to cash,” Mattson said. “There was just more and more and more.

“I opened up the door to grab a handful, just enough to realize that something wasn’t right here.”

On inspection, the soggy bills, mostly 50s and some 20s, were missing some of the attributes of real cash. They lacked the embedded security bar, seemed too thin to the touch, and their colors didn’t hold up well to the dampness.

A DOT truck driver said he noticed drivers stopping along the highway and grabbing some of the bills. He said he did his best to shoo them away.

“Once people saw what I saw, it would have been a free-for-all out there,” Mattson said.

Officers collected $15,470 in bills from a three-mile stretch of the highway. State Troopers confirmed Friday morning that the bills were counterfeit. The investigation has been turned over to the U.S. Secret Service. No suspects have been identified, and police so far have no official theory about how or why the bills ended up there, whether dumped on purpose or lost accidentally.

Troopers remind those people who grabbed some of the bills Thursday that it is a crime to use counterfeit money.

Residents should turn in the bills by calling the State Patrol at (206) 464-6610.

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