Two Washington County men face charges of counterfeiting, fraud and theft after police seized fake bills and counterfeiting supplies in a Clarksville motel.
Jesse L. Harrod, 34, of Salem and Jeffrey A. Petty, 27, of Campbellsburg, were arrested earlier this week after the owner of America’s Best Inn & Suites says they paid for their room in counterfeit cash.
When police arrived to investigate, they found the men with other counterfeit bills and equipment to produce more.
Motel owner Tony Yaldo said he noticed the counterfeit money used, seven $10 bills, when he was counting down the drawer around 11 p.m. Sunday.
After reviewing the security camera footage, he determined that Harrod had paid for the $62.15 room around 8:45 p.m and was given $7.85 in change by the desk clerk on duty.
Yaldo notified police, who went to the room Harrod had rented.
Once in the room, one officer spotted two counterfeit bills on a table, which prompted a request to search the room.
During the search, officers discovered more counterfeit bills on Harrod and in the room, bringing the known total to $190. They also found and confiscated a printer, scanner, digital camera, memory cards and cell phones.
According to the report, Harrod told police he had used the equipment to scan and print counterfeit cash from real bills and that Petty had also printed cash and the two then went to Wal-Mart to get paper to print more bills. Petty told police Harrod he’d let Harrod use some of his money to make copies, as payment for a ride.
The two men could face charges of counterfeiting, fraud and theft under $750.
Clarksville Police Chief Mark Palmer said he’s also contacted the secret service about pursuing federal action against the suspects.
Palmer said as the business district of the area, Clarksville gets counterfeit cash from time to time.
While Sunday’s seizure was under $200, he said finding the suspects, money and tools all together was a rare situation.
Most of the time, the people caught with counterfeit cash are second or third-parties — people either asked by counterfeiters to ‘pass’ the cash into the system, or those who unknowingly accepted or passed some.
“This is one of those rare situations where you’ve got the whole group in one sting,” Palmer said.
“You’ve got the tools they use, you’ve got the money, you’ve got the individuals that developed the currency…this is one of those times when you get everything in one catch. I would say we got them in the beginning stages,” Palmer noted.
“They hit the hotel so they were probably just testing to see how well-received it was. The fact that they still had the printer and scanner with them shows that they did not finish doing what they were doing.”
Among the bills found and used at the motel were five $20-dollar bills and nine $10-dollar bills.
Palmer said not common to find counterfeit bills in denominations of $10 or lower because it doesn’t cover the cost of the materials used to print it.
“You can tell these guys were low-key amateurs because they didn’t price out what they were doing,” he said.
For the most part, when a business or individual is stuck with counterfeit cash, they take a loss on the dollar amount.
“Unfortunately its one of those domino effects,” Palmer said.
A business may unknowingly pass the money onto a customer or take it to the bank where it can’t be used.
“Kind of like hot potato,” he said. “Whoever gets stuck with it is the one that gets burned.”
Palmer urged people to check their cash and contact the Clarksville Police Department if it matches the serial numbers in this case.
If it’s linked, victims could seek restitution from the suspects if charged.
He also cautioned people to be aware of the money they accept; banks will check cash for people that seems suspicious, but there are other ways to check as well.
Higher bills have more security features like holograms and magnetic strips. Paying attention to the feel of the paper, using a counterfeit-detecting pen or investing in a hologram scanner can be invaluable, he said.
“If you’re a business who’s doing this on your own, you really should look into some security devices,” he said. “Some small precautions now could save you a lot of problems later on.”
Clarksville police say the suspects scanned legitimate money to create the counterfeit bills seized Sunday.
Anyone with bills matching those connected to this case are asked to contact the Clarksville Police Department at 812-288-7151.
• $20 bills with serial numbers MD48574338D, MK13638080C and JG51342786D
• $5 bill with serial number HI17891192A
• $20 bills with serial numbers MK1368080C, JG51342786D, MD48574338B and MK90712912A
• $10 bills with serial number IJ53373257A