OREM — The U.S. Secret Service, along with several police agencies along the Wasatch Front, are investigating a series of incidents where a man used counterfeit money to make purchases.
Police say the man is passing fake $20 bills at big box retailers all along the Wasatch Front, including in Tooele, South Jordan, West Jordan, Taylorsville, Riverdale, Centerville and Orem. His scheme has cost the stores thousands of dollars.
The counterfeiting spree started at a Target store in Orem on Jan. 23. The man actually returned to the same store on Feb. 13 and again passed phony bills.
Police say the same man hit a store in Riverdale on Jan. 25. There he gave the clerk 10 fake $20 bills to buy a digital camera. He has used fake money at stores as recently as late last week.
Orem police say the $20 bills may look real from a distance, but they are actually a poor counterfeit bill. It appears there is a security strip on the bill, but it’s not.
The bills were likely copied on a home printer and then the front and back were glued together to look like a real bill, Orem Police Sgt. Craig Martinez said.
“He is always passing 20s,” Martinez said. “They all have the same serial number, but they are not really that good. But they are good enough he has hit at least five different stores so far.”
In both cases at the Orem Target, the man bought a large-ticket item like a TV. In one incident, he used 19 $20 bills to purchase a 39-inch TV. Then minutes later, he came back into the store, returned the item and got cash back.
In Orem, he wore BYU athletic wear to blend in with the other customers.
“He is all dressed head to toe in BYU gear,” Martinez said. “He's got a BYU jacket and BYU baseball cap on.”
Yet the man is also known to wear a University of Utah sweatshirt when he passes fake $20 at stores in Salt Lake County. In all the cases, he drives a grey Ford pickup truck and intentionally tries to avoid getting caught.
“When he pulled into the parking lot, he pulled off the license plates of the truck,” Martinez said. “We actually have him on video doing that.” Police have his plate, Y006 EL, but it is from a vehicle that was sold.
The surveillance photos are very good. Anyone who recognizes the man is asked to call Orem police at 801-229-7070.