Home Printer Spits Out Counterfeit Cash

Bogus $100 bills fooled casinos. Are home printers getting too good?
Posted September 22, 2007

David Needle

Consumer printers are improving all the time. Maybe too much for some casino operators.

The California Attorney General's office announced late Thursday the arrest of two counterfeiters caught feeding fake $100 bills into slot machines at a Tribal Casino in Mendocino County.

"These two bandits used home printers to make fake bills that tricked casino slot machines into paying out more than $100,000," said California Attorney General Jerry Brown in a statement.

A spokesman for the A.G.'s office said the scheme involved bleaching legitimate $1 bills till they were blank and then using them as stock to print out $100 bills in the old pre-watermark style. The bills probably wouldn't have passed muster in most retail establishments, which is why the counterfeiters targeted the slot machines.

"It didn't feel like a real bill, but it fooled the bill validator sensors," the spokesman told InternetNews.com. He could not provide further details as to what type of printer was used except to confirm it was of a class that's readily available in computer stores and consumer electronics outlets.

During a raid of an Extended Stay Hotel in Richmond California where one of the suspects was residing, investigators said they found two printers, a scanner, rubber gloves, chemical bleaching solutions, a stack of bleached bills, and a pile of baseball caps the suspects used to disguise themselves on their visits to different casinos.

Jack Daniels Ewing, 27, and Mikael Inturbe, 27, were arrested Wednesday at the Sho-Ka-Wah Casino in Hopland on charges of conspiracy, counterfeiting and burglary. The arrests followed a four-month investigation by the A.G.'s office, which said the counterfeiters bilked at least 20 casinos in Northern California and Nevada out of more than $100,000.

While under surveillance, the suspects were observed passing off large quantities of counterfeit "old style" $100 bills through the bill validators of gaming machines at Northern California and Nevada casinos. The suspects demonstrated familiarity with the security features of the bill validators and were proficient at avoiding detection, according to the A.G.'s office.

In most cases the suspects fed bills into the machine, cashed out, and left the casino. Occasionally, the suspects used the fake bills to play the slot machines, sometimes winning up to $4,000.

Both suspects were charged with 182 PC (Conspiracy), 475(a) PC (Counterfeiting) and 182 PC (Burglary). Bail is set at $300,000 for each defendant.

According to FBI statistics, there are approximately 100,000 forgery and counterfeiting charges filed in the United States annually. The Division of Gambling Control’s investigation into this case remains active and ongoing.

This article was first published on InternetNews.com.

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