Back on January 20, 2022, Minnwest Bank in Spring Valley, Minn., made a discovery. They received $1,100 in counterfeit bills from a local business making a daily bank deposit.
Little did the employees at Dollar General know at the time, but they were the target of a scam carried out over multiple states by what appears to be a group of traveling professionals out of Florida.
According to Captain Phil Whitacre, with the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office, there is a group that has been passing counterfeit $100 bills all over Florida, South Dakota and Minnesota. And, it appears to always be two people walking into the establishments.
As the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office began their investigation, they reached to other agencies and discovered this was pretty widespread. In Minnesota alone, along with Spring Valley, these shysters have scammed their way through Zumbrota, Cannon Falls, Big Lake, Stewartville, and Hastings.
Each time the scammers pay a visit to a business like the Dollar General in Spring Valley, they purchase gift cards with their fake money.
According to Captain Whitacre, these scammers are always purchasing around $1,100 in gift cards at their targeted establishments.
The Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office shared the following information regarding the differences between the real $100 bill and the fake one. “The front side of the fake bill has an outline of Benjamin Franklin’s face in the light colored area. This lighter area is much lighter on the fake bill than the real one. The vertical lettering on the left side of the fake bill is from the bank identifying it as counterfeit. The back side of the fake bill is also lighter colored than a real bill. Be sure to use a counterfeit detection pen/marker if you are accepting large bills from an unknown source.”
Since the Secret Service gets involved in any cases involving counterfeit currency, this case is still under investigation in conjunction with multiple out-of-state agencies.
If Journal readers have any information to assist in this investigation, they can call the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office at (507) 765-3874, and select option #1.
Counterfeiting U.S. currency is punishable by up to 12 years in prison and/or a fine of as much as $250,000.