After a one-month investigation, Abilene police have arrested 10 people in connection with a counterfeit money ring. Six of them have been charged with third-degree felony forgery.
Two convenience stores, H-E-B, and another local business reported the counterfeit money being handed to them, which caused other businesses in the area to be on alert. The money started being circulated around the holiday season, which is the busiest time for businesses and a prime target as cashiers often are in a hurry to ring people through and don’t look closely at the money.
Det. Jeff LeFrance said it’s not uncommon for counterfeit cases to happen during this time of the year. LeFrance, who works in the department’s fraud division, said people who have yard sales or estate sales are also targets to receive counterfeit money.
Police reported that the break in the case happened Tuesday when a patrol officer pulled one suspect they were searching for over.
APD Sgt. Jason Haak said that the suspect started talking, which allowed the department along with the Special Operations Division and Crimes Against Property Department, to execute search warrants and take into custody several people.
According to the APD news release, each counterfeiter was involved with the same group that operated in various Abilene locations.
The people who face forgery charges are responsible for the counterfeit money that’s been passed around at several local businesses. The counterfeit money was found in many denominations - $5 to $20 – and at many of the city’s game rooms.
Big Johnsons Liquor owner Johnny Johnson said counterfeit money hurts everything including the economy. He said when businesses are presented with counterfeit money, they have to raise their prices to offset the loss. Johnson said his business has only had one instance of counterfeit money because he’s trained his employees to spot the fake bills.
Abilene police noted that the counterfeit money has a different texture, color and length. A majority of the counterfeit money collected was printed on a home printer. If the counterfeit money is tested with a pen test, it’ll fail. Plus, the feel of the money doesn’t conform to the actual currency. The bills’ serial numbers are identical to the denomination currently in circulation.
The Secret Service has taken over the case and is going to file federal charges.
Haak said any person who thinks they have a counterfeit bill can take it to the bank and find out for sure. At iTestCash we recommend business owners to look into counterfeit money detectors, as they can be the strongest defense against fake currency.