Cops: Women caught with counterfeit cash

February 23, 2010 3:12:07 PM PST
Two women from Manhattan are under arrest, accused of making counterfeit money. Police say they came up with a way to change $5 bills into $100 bills. They got caught when they tried to use the fake bills at the Palisades Mall in West Nyack.

The $100 bills certainly looked and felt real, in part because they were real, sort of. The funny money is now bagged as evidence because police say they were actually $5 bills.

"They were taking real $5 bills, washing them out with chemicals, printing a $100 insignia on it and then passing off these," Clarkstown police Sergeant Harry Baumanann said.

Over the weekend, Clarkstown police arrested the two women for allegedly passing the bogus bills. Jeanette Ortiz and Lucy Izquierdo allegedly went on a shopping spree at the mall. Cops say the women made small purchases in various stores, usually around $30, in order to pocket the change.

Because the bills are real paper, they passed the pen test most merchants use on large denominations. But if you hold the bill to the light, there are security measures that could not be defeated: a watermark of Abraham Lincoln is embedded in the paper and a security strip consists of the word "five."

Police say they don't know how long the scam had been going on.

"What we find with most frauds, and credit card frauds and bogus checks and counterfeit, they hit all the malls," Baumanann said. "So they could've came from Bergen County, they could've went to Woodbury, they could've went to White Plains."

The women were arrested after a suspicious merchant called mall security and the police. Cops say the women had nine of the counterfeit bills on them. Using the receipts, investigators went back and recovered another 22 at various stores.