By Jeff Lehr
Police warned Thursday of a surge in reports of counterfeit bills of various denominations being passed at Joplin businesses.
Cpl. Chuck Niess said phony $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills have been showing up at the cash registers of fast-food restaurants such as Sonic and retail stores like Wal-Mart in the past week.
“They’re not very sophisticated at all,” Niess said of the quality of the bills.
He said they are fairly easy to detect as counterfeit. The bills are printed on the wrong type of paper and lack watermarks and plastic security strips embedded in the paper. The denomination that appears to be the most prevalent are $100 bills.
Police are warning businesses to examine bills closely to make sure they are authentic and to contact police about any suspicious cash they receive.
Investigators are trying to track the phony money back to its ultimate source. That’s not been easy. There’s been several different people passing or attempting to pass the bills, Niess said.
A 20-year-old man was arrested Tuesday at the Wal-Mart store at 1501 S. Range Line Road when he tried to convert 14 phony $10 bills and three phony $20 bills into a $200 Wal-Mart Visa credit card. A Wal-Mart employee suspected the bills were fake, and Jaymes D. Wright, of Joplin, was arrested by a police detective who happened to be at the store on another matter.
According to a probable-cause affidavit, Wright told the detective that he knew the bills were fake but that he received them as payment for some items that he’d sold another man. He reportedly then took the detective to a restroom of the store, where he had hidden four counterfeit $100 bills under a liner of a trash can.
Jaymes Wright was charged with felony forgery.