Counterfeiters Hit Metro, Sought In Five States

It's a quick way to make $95. Counterfeiters have been turning $5 bills into $100 bills.

Counterfeiters used “Honest Abe” to make a dishonest $100. “They're able to chemically remove the ink of the $5 bill and then with a high end scanner and printer they print over it with a 100,” says Sarpy County Sheriff’s Department detective Matt Barrall.

Two suspected counterfeiters have hit 18 stores in five states, including a Sarpy County Walmart. They bought expensive electronics with bills that had an extreme makeover. It looks and feels like a $100 bill, but if you put it up to the light you'll see an image of Abraham Lincoln, which means it’s really a $5 bill.

The counterfeiters likely didn't target Omaha's Wohlner’s grocery, where clerks are trained on how to determine whether a bill is real. “It'll still have the line through there, but you can tell by the fuzziness that it’s been bleached and changed,” says Wohlner’s Mike Schwartz. The ink is slightly raised so you can feel that texture, especially on new bills.

The scheme was to return the merchandise for a cash refund, but one suspect, Jermaine Wells, got caught, though not until after the pair passed $15,000 worth of counterfeit $100 bills. “These guys have enough knowledge and information that for the general person you wouldn't think twice about taking this bill,” says Barrall. That's why clerks need to look closely at $100 bills to make sure Ben is not covering for Abe.

The second counterfeiter is still on the loose. Michael Cokes is wanted for felony forgery and theft. If you know where to find him, call Sarpy County Crime Stoppers at 592-STOP.

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