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Counterfeit bills continue to surface

July 12, 2011 at 2:12 a.m.


WHAT DO YOU DO?The Victoria Police Department will not release specific identifying information on the counterfeit bills in circulation until the close of the investigation.

If you suspect you have received a bogus $10 bill, a bank can check the validity of the money. Counterfeit money will be turned over to the police to aid in the investigation.

After the arrest of three counterfeiting suspects Saturday, more fake $10 bills were surfacing across the north part of Victoria.

When Bealls employees suspected $10 bills used to purchase merchandise were counterfeit, they flagged down Victoria Police Officer Christina Tate, who was working security at the Victoria Mall. Tate arrested Sammy Salinas, 21; Nastassia Salinas, 28; and Eddie Gonzales, 21, of Cuero, who were charged with forgery and engaging in organized criminal activity.

The spread of counterfeit bills was not limited to Bealls. The police received reports of counterfeit bills used in different locations in the mall.

"Two-hundred, thirty dollars were collected from various stores, and all of the bills were counterfeit $10," said Victoria Police Sgt. Mark Jameson.

Victoria Police Lt. Ralph Buentello said merchants are being asked to check surveillance videos to see if the arrested suspects presented bills at their locations.

Instances of counterfeit bills being used at a variety of locations began to surface, most with the same serial numbers as the counterfeit bills presented at the mall, Buentello said.

"Businesses are finding out during the depositing process," Buentello said. Meanwhile, the bills are changing hands as they are given out as change and surface elsewhere."

Police have received reports of unsuspecting shoppers who have received counterfeit bills as change and do not realize it until they go to make purchases or deposits elsewhere. In these instances, the person can either accept the loss, or see if the business they received the bill from will acknowledge the error and reimburse them.

Buentello said six businesses were presented the bills so far, and police are still investigating the extent of the damage.

"It has a ripple effect," Buentello said. "If they don't catch them at the register, they can pass through several hands, and we don't know where the original exchange took place."

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