Sophisticated counterfeiters who had passed fake bills in Everett, Lynnwood and Seattle were arrested Tuesday at the Bellevue Square mall, after a store clerk noticed the money felt and looked a little odd.
Alerted by mall security, Bellevue Police caught the suspects after they had shopped at five stores at the mall, passing a fake 50 at each for small items, then taking legitimate 20s, 10s and fives in change. The three suspects had more than $2,100 in forged $50 bills among them when they were arrested.
The investigation revealed that the suspects, a 27-year-old man from East Wenatchee and two 22-year-old women from Cashmere, had come west of the mountains to make and pass counterfeit currency. A suspect told detectives that one of the women knew how to alter real bills in small denominations into larger denominations, and the three had spent Monday night making as much as $3,000 worth of the fake fifties in a hotel room in Everett, then struck malls around the area Tuesday.
After a suspect had left Club Libby Lu, the clerk called mall security about the suspicious bill.
The same material as legitimate currency, with highly accurate print, this counterfeit currency was far more sophisticated than most. Bellevue typically has a very low rate of currency counterfeiting. Fraud detectives usually investigate only four to six counterfeiting cases a year, in much smaller numbers and with poor-quality reproductions.
The Bellevue Police will display the counterfeit currency at noon today at Bellevue City Hall, in Room 1E-109. Fraud Detective Gary Forrest will be available to answer questions. The counterfeit money and the printer used to make it will be on hand for filming and photographing.
One of the women was booked into King County jail Tuesday on investigation of forgery. The others were identified and released.
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