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Deputies nab $480 in bogus $20 bills

October 06, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Police have seized around $480 in fake $20 bills circulating in the county, but warn that as much as $800 could still be floating around, according to Deputy S.D. Myers with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department.

On Tuesday morning, police obtained a warrant to search a home on Grapevine Road, where they found a Gateway computer, a scanner and an Epson printer allegedly used to make the fake bills, Myers said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Myers displayed 24 bills seized by police officers, including one still on an 8-by-10 sheet of white paper. Many of the bills were wrinkled and some were torn and taped together.

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An investigation into the counterfeit money was launched on Sept. 19, when police seized $80 in fake money used in a drug buy. Since then, fake bills have been found in a variety of area stores, including Kmart, a ROCS gas station, Pikeside Bowl in Pikeside, W.Va., Food Lion in Hedgesville, W.Va. and H-Mart, a convenience store in Martinsburg.

Much of the money was likely used for non-retail purchases, Myers said.

"A lot of this is drug money," Myers alleged. As part of drug buys, real money was exchanged for a larger amount of fake money, he said.

Myers said the man's computer could be sent to the West Virginia State Police Crime Lab for analysis. The case might be turned over to the Secret Service for further investigation, he said.

Business owners can buy a special pen that allows them to determine whether a bill is real. On genuine bills, the pen will not leave a mark, but on fake money, it will show up as a black or brown mark, Myers said.

Anyone who has a fake bill in their possession is asked to turn it over to the sheriff's department, he said. There is no way to reimburse the person, police said.

Serial numbers used are: BE24958196B and CE24958146B.

Police said calls from the public greatly helped their investigation, including calls to the anonymous Berkeley County Crime Solvers line. Two callers provided the name of the man whose home was searched, Myers said.

Although Myers is in charge of the investigation, numerous other officers with the sheriff's department, Martinsburg Police Department and West Virginia State Police were assisting, officers said.

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