Thieves get away with cash while passing fake $100 bills in small town stores

Thieves get away with cash while passing fake $100 bills in small town stores. (WWMT Franque Thompson)

Several small towns in Southwest Michigan are being hit by thieves using doctored $100 bills and Coldwater police are looking for at least two people passing the fake money to get away with real cash and free stuff.

The Coldwater Public Safety director said thieves are using washed $10 bills and turning them into $100’s. He explained the process of washing consists of removing the print off of a good $10 bill and then print $100 bill on top. When a money marker is used on the fake bill it still passes the test.

There have been four cases in Coldwater and at least three in Lawrence, so far. There are also reports of the phony money passing in Bronson and Sturgis.

Raquel Christie said it was a typical Friday night at Lawson’s Self Service in Lawrence. Surveillance cameras caught video of a man buying cigarettes and concessions. Christie said she was at the register to cash him out.

“I received a $100 bill from like 1988, which doesn’t have all that fancy internal stuff to stare at, so I used the money marker and when I used the money marker it came out the same color as any other money,” said Christie.

Just across the street at The Shack, owner Cory Brewer said a woman came in to buy a burger with an old $100 bill.

“My cashier wasn’t sure of the $100 bill, so I took it. I didn’t have a marking pen so I asked her can I go across the street to see if I can borrow Lawson’s pen and she said ‘yeah’,” said Brewer.

Within 10 minutes from the time Christie cashed the old $100 bill into the register, she said Brewer came into the store with the old bill given to him by the female patron. Christie said she used the money marker to check his bill.

“It checked out. We match them—same serial number, right down to the letter. That’s when we said, ‘Whoa Nelly’ and went forward calling the police,” said Christie.

Brewer said he was on his way back to his restaurant to reveal the counterfeit money.

“About 10 minutes into it she got kind of suspicious something was going on because I hadn’t come back yet and took off running. Then later that night they got the Friendly Tavern in Coloma as well,” said Brewer, further explaining his restaurant didn’t lose any money.

Lawson Manager Jennifer Pease showed a receipt explaining the man got away with $90 dollars in cash.

“It’s very frustrating. I mean, me getting called in at night to deal with the police, the business itself losing the money when we’re just like everybody else just trying to make a living,” said Pease.

“Especially in little towns like this you try to get all you can get and somebody comes in and tries to pass off a fake bill it’s just not good,” said Brewer.

Coldwater Department of Public Safety said officers are reviewing surveillance video for a good look at the suspects.

The counterfeit bills have been handed over to Secret Service.

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