'Washed' money found at Elkhart businesses

NOW: ’Washed’ money found at Elkhart businesses

ELKHART, Ind.-- A money scam hit several Elkhart businesses, involving what is called "washed" bills. It's a technique to create counterfeit money, where bills are bleached and reprinted with a higher denomination on the same paper.

It was the sophisticated technique that Elkhart police say took them by surprise.

"On December 28th, we found a 50 that was in our stack of money after we had started changing out our drawers for the night," said Devin Fumarolo, general manager at Culver's in Elkhart. "We noticed that it looked phishy, so we saw that it was actually a 10, that was printed over as a 50."

A ten printed over as a 50.

"It's this technique they do where they bleach a lower denomination bill and reprint it as a higher denomination bill," Fumarolo said.

This is what is called "washing" money.

The Elkhart Culver's on Brittany Court is one of at least six businesses in the past couple months, according to police, to fall victim to this scam, forcing them to forfeit the money over to police.

"That is a big loss for a business," said Summer Lewis, owner of Iechyd Da Brewing Company.

Elkhart business owners are now on the lookout so they don't become the next victim, like Lewis, who trained her staff as soon as she heard about the washed bills.

"The fact that they're washing tens, and running 50s and 100s on them, the markers don't work, and the normal tricks we use in the trade don't work," Lewis said.

Other businesses hit recently by counterfeit bills in Elkhart include: A Nails on County Road 6, Martin's Supermarket on E. Jackson Street, the 7/11 on Main Street, and 1st Source Bank on W. Lexington Avenue, who likely caught counterfeits being deposited.

As police investigate the fraud business owners are encouraged to know their money.

"I really hope that people learn their lesson and they shouldn't try to fraud hard-working Americans like that, it's not worth it," Fumarolo said.

Elkhart police say the investigation is ongoing, but four individuals have been identified by the detective in charge of the case, although no arrests have been made yet.

If this happens to your business, police urge you to make a report.

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