A man suspected of passing counterfeit $50 bills in South Portland was arrested Saturday by the Portland Police Department.

Edward Arbour, 31, most recently a resident of Hallowell, was caught by officers after attempting to pay with fake bills at the Hannaford grocery store on Forest Avenue in Portland, according to the South Portland Police Department.

Store employees determined the bills were fake and did not accept them. Arbour fled on foot.

He was apprehended shortly after by Portland police officers, but was not initially charged because he did not buy anything with the bogus bills, said South Portland police Lt. Frank Clark.

While Arbour was in custody, Clark said, police learned that two Hannaford stores in South Portland — one on Cottage Road, the other on Philbrook Avenue — recently accepted counterfeit $50 bills.

“The Hannaford branches started to put the pieces together. Each store called us 15 minutes apart,” said Clark.

Because Arbour matched the description of the South Portland suspect, he was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated forgery, a state felony charge. He was moved to the Cumberland County Jail and bail was set at $500 — payable only in cash.

Clark said the U.S. Secret Service, which handles counterfeit money investigations, will be notified.

Retailers that accept fake money are stuck with the loss. Therefore, store clerks often test larger bills for authenticity at the point of sale using special counterfeit detection “pens.”

Clark said at least one of Arbour’s bills passed the “pen test.”

Police don’t know where Arbour got the bills, but Clark said counterfeit bills are seen sporadically by his department. “We deal with a bunch of them and then people get arrested and charged and it drops back off.”

Some of the bills his agency sees are made on home computers.

The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing estimated that $61.4 million in fake bills were passed in the United States in 2007. Total circulation that year was more than $770 billion.