Counterfeit bill passers target Las Vegas area garage sales

Updated November 27, 2017 - 9:49 am

It used to be that those passing counterfeit bills would target businesses. Now, it appears they are targeting homeowners who hold garage sales.

One such person went to a sale Oct. 21-22 in the Tamarac community and hit three homes.

One of the victims was Dave Bruno, 86, a retired AT&T supervisor from New Jersey. He and his wife, Lucille, moved to Las Vegas in 1994. They live in Spring Valley, where their neighborhood has 115 homes and holds community garage sales twice a year, in April and October. Bruno described his neighborhood as very safe.

He and his wife were selling kitchen items, wall art and miscellaneous items.

A man described as tall and on the heavy side who was driving a white Mercedes sedan and wearing fluffy slippers showed up.

“It was near the end of the day. I was selling a big picture for $35 and he said, ‘I’ll give you $20,’ and I said, ‘All right,’” Bruno recalled. “He also bought poker chips, so the whole thing was $30.”

The man asked if he had change for a $100 bill.

“I gave him $70 in change, so I lost $70 and a couple other items that I gave him for nothing, so I actually (lost more than that),” Bruno said.

Later, a woman came around and told him about fake bills being passed around. Two other households also made change for fake $100 bills. Like Bruno, those homeowners sold $25 to $30 worth of merchandise.

“It really bugs me,” said Michael Mehling, a neighbor. “I don’t want people to get taken advantage of.”

The Metropolitan Police Department notes that counterfeiting is a serious crime.

“Garage sales is a kind of unique way to spend counterfeit money,” said Officer Jay Rivera. “Typically, counterfeiters will use the money at convenience stores, at least at the level that local law enforcement deals with it. But I should say that counterfeiting is a federal crime and is generally investigated by the United States Secret Service.”

Metro will look into cases such as a fake $20 bill being used to buy cigarettes at a convenience store, Rivera said. It turns over the counterfeit bills to the Secret Service.

“And the higher the amount, the more likely they are to take over the investigation,” Rivera said.

The ink and pen test done by store clerks? They are checking to see if the bill changes color, due to reacting to chemicals used in making it.

“If it changes color, then it’s missing the chemical used to make the paper,” he said. “It’s that chemical that makes it change color.”

He had no stats on counterfeiting. As for the Tamarac paper passer …

“He’s easy to identify, so if you hold a garage sale, beware of a guy in fuzzy slippers,” Rivera said. “He’s got unusual dress habits, I guess.”

Could the footwear have been used to divert attention from his face?

“I don’t think they’re that clever,” Rivera said. “But I can’t get into the mind of a suspect. I have no idea why he did that.”

If holding a garage sale, Metro suggest taking the time to familiarize yourself with the various bill denominations. Know where elements such as the Treasury seal should be.

One of the most difficult things to counterfeit is the quality of the paper, Metro noted. It’s unique and uses green and red fibers that are hard for a forger to duplicate. On newer currency, there’s a strip. If you look closely or use a magnifier, you can see the bill’s denomination written out in it.

“Put it up in the air, to see it in the sun, and look for that strip,” Rivera said.

Bruno said the average person would not think the bill he took was counterfeit. He accepted a $50 bill from someone else and planned to take it to the bank to see if it, too, was counterfeit.

“I’m never going to accept a $100 bill again, not even a $50,” he said. “I was a fool. I should have never accepted that $100 bill.”

To better thwart counterfeiters, the government adds special features, thin embedded lines and ghost images on bills. Visit for specifics.

Contact Jan Hogan at or 702-387-2949.

Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Star Trek fans on show’s enduring popularity
Star Trek fans at the Star Trek Convention 2018 talk about why they think the show has stayed popular across the years Thursday, August 2, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nonprofit provides clothing for homeless
Sydney Grover of Can You Spare A Story?, talks about how she founded the non-profit organization. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Family remembers deceased mother
Family members of Adriann Gallegos remember her. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Restoring classic Corvettes to perfection
Members of the National Corvette Restorers Society Convention talk about what it takes to earn the NCRS Top Flight Award for a restored Corvette at South Point in Las Vegas on Tuesday July 17, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Clark County recount votes in commission’s District E primary
Clark County staff begin the recount requested by candidate Marco Hernandez in the democratic primary for the County Commission's District E seat on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Long-running local hip hop producer wants Vegas rappers to shine
Las Vegas Hip Hop producer and co-owner of Digital Insight Recording Studios Tiger Stylz reflects on 30 years of music production in the city. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Construction for new 51s ballpark underway
New home of the Las Vegas 51s is planned to be finished by March 2019 in Summerlin according to team president Don Logan. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Henderson police bodycam footage of officer-involved shooting
Henderson police released body-worn camera footage of an officer-involved shooting in a grocery store parking lot at 2667 Windmill Parkway on Aug. 12, 2018. (Henderson Police Department)
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nye County detectives pursue suspects
A swarm of Nye County deputies, at the request of Las Vegas police, surrounded a hotel room in Pahrump last week to take two fugitives into custody. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Las Vegas judge’s ruling will halt tonight’s execution
On Wednesday Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez issued a ruling that will halt the execution of convicted murderer Scott Dozier. Alvogen Inc., which makes the sedative midazolam, filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing the Nevada Department of Corrections of surreptitiously obtaining the drug for use in an execution.
3 people shot in southeast Las Vegas
Three men were shot Thursday night in southeast Las Vegas, and two of them have life threatening injuries. Las Vegas police responded to the incident just after 10 p.m. on the 5000 block of Mountain Vista Street. The investigation is in its early stages and police were unable to describe the suspect or say how man people they think were involved. Police encourage anyone with information regarding this shooting to call Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555, or 3-1-1
Robbery suspects apprehended
Four robbery suspects were taken into custody Thursday morning after a vehicle and foot chase that ended in an east Las Vegas neighborhood. The incident began when a person was robbed at gunpoint around 4:45 a.m. near Maryland Parkway and Desert Inn. Officers arriving at the scene tried to stop two vehicles. One vehicle escaped but police chased the second into a neighborhood on Flamingo Road near Mountain Vista Street. Police surrounded the neighborhood and the suspects were apprehended. It looked like one police vehicle was involved in a collision with the suspects' car. One woman suffered an unknown injury and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. 01:04
Las Vegas police looking for robbery suspects
Two robbers who recently targeted three Las Vegas businesses remained at large Tuesday and police are asking the public to help identify them. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser gives update of officer-involved shooting
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser provides an update about an officer-involved shooting at Radwick Drive and Owens Avenue in the northeast Las Vegas on Thursday. A robbery suspect was shot and killed. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
LVMPD Looking For Robbery Suspect
The LVMPD Commercial Robbery Section is attempting to identify the pictured suspect who is responsible for committing robberies to businesses in the southern part of the Las Vegas Valley during the month of May 2018. The suspect enters the business, threatens the employee with a firearm and demands money from the register. The employee complies and the suspect flees the business.
North Las Vegas police are investigating a triple shooting that left one man dead
North Las Vegas police are investigating a triple shooting that left one man dead at 2500 block of Ellis St., on Friday, June 8, 2018. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like