CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Two Marines are being questioned by military and Okinawa prefectural police in connection with a reported attempt to pass fake 5,000-yen (about $48) notes at several off-base businesses, Okinawa police said.

An Okinawa prefectural police spokesman Monday said the two Marines, ages 22 and 24, are suspected of passing at least five of the bogus bills at businesses in central Okinawa.

Okinawa police did not release the names and units of the Marines; Marine officials had no comment by deadline. The pair were in military custody Monday pending filing of formal charges, the police spokesman said.

The two men became suspects when they paid for drinks at a Chatan bar on March 8 and the bartender became suspicious, the police spokesman said.

They were questioned and released after saying they received the bill from an ATM on a military base and did not know it was counterfeit, police said.

However, the discovery of several other fake 5,000-yen bills in the area prompted police to pursue the issue, the spokesman said, adding that police suspect the bills were made on a color photocopier.

Counterfeit bills also were discovered at a convenience store in Chatan, a liquor store and supermarket in Ginowan and a hotel in Kitanakagusuku, the spokesman said.

The number of counterfeit bills found in Japan has increased in recent years, according to news reports. On Friday police in Tokyo arrested five suspects in a raid that netted more than 100 counterfeit 10,000-yen (about $96) notes.

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