A trend of suspects passing fake money in the Dunn area has continued in the last several days with nine additional cases reported to the Dunn Police Department since late last week.
The same is the case in Erwin where there has been an uptick of counterfeit money cases.
The nine recent cases occurred in Dunn between Aug. 2 and Wednesday at businesses throughout the Dunn area. In each case suspects attempted to pass bills of different denominations.
One of the most recent incidents was Tuesday night when two suspects attempted to pass fake money at Hardee’s. In that case a $5 bill was used and in another Hardee’s incident the customer attempted to pass a fake $10 bill.
Another case Tuesday was at Carlie C’s IGA on East Cumberland Street. There, one customer attempted to pass 15 fake bills. The transaction included nine $5 bills and six $1 bills.
Several incidents in the last week occurred at the Walmart store on Jackson Boulevard. A suspect attempted to pass two fake $20 bills and one fake $10 bill in an incident last Thursday.
There was another incident on Aug. 3 at Walmart when a suspect attempted to pass assorted bills of fake money at the store.
Another Walmart incident occurred Monday night when someone attempted to pass two fake $10 bills. And there was a fourth report at Walmart Wednesday morning.
The remaining two incidents occurred at two other businesses, including a local bank.
The Fidelity Bank in Dunn reported to police that someone there attempted to pass four counterfeit $10 bills Monday.
The bank customer told officers she did not know the bills were fake and it could not be proven that she purposefully attempted to pass fake bills.
The other reported incident in recent days occurred at the Liberty Mart convenience store on Ellis Avenue in Dunn. The suspect in that case attempted to pass three fake bills and it is reported to be a black female, approximately 50 years old.
The Dunn department has arrested three suspects on counterfeit charges in recent weeks.
Among other businesses victimized have been Kim’s Barbecue, Grandson’s restaurant and several local convenience stores.
Dunn Police Chief Chuck West said his department is asking the public to help find out where the fake money is coming from.
“We are keeping these cases open and we are asking the public to be diligent to help us stop this rash of counterfeit money we have seen recently,” Chief West said. “If we don’t know about the activity, we can’t stop it. It is going to keep coming until we find out who is doing this.”
In Erwin, Tony Thigpen and his girlfriend, Leonora Lee Kelly, both of Erwin, have been arrested for passing counterfeit money. They were also charged last month in Dunn.
“We’ve had all different denominations, 100’s, 10’s, I was told there are some 5’s floating around. I know Dunn’s been hit very hard at Walmart and all over,” Erwin Police Chief Jonathon Johnson said.
On Aug. 2 there was a counterfeit $5 passed at Dollar General.
Several weeks ago a search warrant was issued for the home of Miguel Davis, 37, for suspected heroin. Chief Johnson said suspected heroin was found as well as a weapon. Mr. Davis is a convicted felon. Cash was also seized. Mr. Davis was arrested.
It turned out $800 seized from Mr. Davis was counterfeit $20 bills, Chief Johnson said.
“By the time we found out he had bonded out,” Chief Johnson said.
“Unfortunately, people have been arrested for counterfeit money, it hasn’t slowed down none, if anything it has increased. It’s a pretty large group of individuals,” Chief Johnson said.
“I know Walmart’s been hit a lot and our Dollar General. We’re working together with Dunn and trying to figure out what’s going on,” Chief Johnson said. “They’re targeting bigger stores because they are so busy.”
He said on June 27 an Erwin man, Richard Kale Matthews, was arrested in Sampson County by deputies there for having counterfeit money.
“He apparently still had the money in the sheets and he was on his way to Wilmington,” Chief Johnson said.
“We were told it may be made in the mountains. It’s not a very uncomplicated process I understand. You get a printer and a certain type of paper,” he said.
Chief Johnson advised businesses and the public to be cautious. He said many times businesses do not mark lower denomination bills and that is a lot of what is coming in counterfeit.
“I would like to tell any business to pay extra attention, if you got a marker, mark it, and if something feels differently, call us,” he said.