Couple spent fake money all over town — until officials inspected their trash, feds say

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Photo from Colin Watts

An upstate New York couple is accused of manufacturing counterfeit money in their home and spending it at dozens of local businesses over several months, federal officials said.

The couple from Buffalo paid or attempted to pay more than 50 area businesses with fake $100 bills, according to a March 21 news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York.

A steakhouse, a chocolate shop and a pet supply store were among the businesses they targeted between December and March, officials said.

An attorney for the couple could not immediately be reached for comment by McClatchy News.

The scheme was uncovered when Watson’s Chocolates reported the couple to the U.S. Secret Service, officials said. The store provided the government with surveillance footage of the couple paying with a counterfeit bill on Jan 10, the release said.

A month later, investigators searched through the couple’s trash and discovered evidence of a counterfeit bill manufacturing operation, officials said.

Among the items found were “an ink cartridge, a partial counterfeit bill, printer paper with the outlines of bills used to align printing of counterfeit bills, receipts, and bags from businesses on Elmwood Avenue where counterfeit bills were passed, and handwritten addresses of businesses where counterfeit bills were passed,” officials said.

The pair have been charged with conspiracy to manufacture and pass counterfeit U.S. currency, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

There are a number of things to look for when currency is suspected of being fake, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Legitimate bank notes should be rough to the touch, the bank’s website says. Denominations over $5 should have a slight watermark when held up to light, and denominations over $10 should have “color-changing ink on the lower right corner that shifts from copper to green.”

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