Four people have been charged in a counterfeit money scheme in New York. The suspects are accused of spending the fake money in at least 16 businesses in Monroe County over the last two months, according to local police.
The four suspects were identified after police went through surveillance footage, including video from a Dunkin’ Donuts in Brighton. Authorities are working with the Secret Service to pinpoint the origin of the counterfeit cash.
Lashar McMiller, 19, was charged with three counts of first-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. Hilary Dweh, 22, was charged with one count of criminal possession of a forged instrument as well as petit larceny. Foday Feika, 24, was charged with 17 counts of first-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument as well as aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.
A 15-year-old unnamed female was also charged with first-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. The young woman was remanded to a juvenile detention facility.
Mark Henderson, Brighton Police Chief, said the investigation is still ongoing, and authorities are still searching for more suspects.
“We do believe that we do not have all of the counterfeit money in our possession,” said Henderson.
Counterfeit money crimes are on the rise, particularly before and just after the holidays. Recently, a man in Dougherty County, Georgia was caught on camera buying a beer with fake money.
To counter the problem, Doughtery County Police Captain Tom Jackson suggests using counterfeit pens. Counterfeit pens can be used to swipe bills, and if they come back negative, employees know that the bill is not genuine.
In the Brighton case, Police Chief Mark Henderson said the department worked with Rochester and Brockport police as well as the Secret Service and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
The Brighton police asked for tips on social media to help identify an individual who spent counterfeit money at a local business. Tips led to investigative leads and an arrest.
Lashar McMiller was charged on Wednesday and arranged in Brighton Town Court before being remanded to the Monroe County Jail. The other two named suspects were arraigned in Henrietta Town Court and remanded to the Monroe County Jail.
Authorities tracked the suspects to Mt. Hope Avenue in Rochester. Police detained the suspects and found “evidence of several crimes, including some of the counterfeit money that had been passed” inside of the vehicle, said Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Captain Jeffrey Wagner.
“We would like for people to take a few moments to look at the money,” said Henderson. Police are alerting local businesses that counterfeit bills are circulating within the community.
Detection markers, he said, are not working on some of the fake bills circulating in the county.
“If you knowingly pass a counterfeit bill, then you are in violation of the law,” said Brockport Police Chief Dan Varrenti. “There may be people out there, good people out there, who will unfortunately look at their money and say, ‘Darn it, I have one of these (fake) bills in my possession.’ Either you’re out the money that you’re possess or you attempt to try and pass it. The money in the form that it is in your pocket holds no value.”