Police warn of ‘Counterfeit Cons' scamming Central New Yorkers with fake cash

Published 05/11 2014 04:43PM

Updated 05/12 2014 11:36PM

Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - If you're thinking about selling some things on Craigslist, police have a warning for you as “Counterfeit Cons” are targeting Central New Yorkers.

While spring cleaning, you may find some things you’ll want to part with. An old fridge, iPod or that rarely used dirt bike - but before you sell them - make sure you don’t become a victim of counterfeit money.

How can you spot counterfeit cash? Click here for what you need to know.

“Over the past four months, we've had multiple cases of this. We've seen it from everything as small as an iPad all the way up to motor vehicles,” said Sgt. Tom Connellan of the Syracuse Police Department.

Police say they’ve received stacks of reports from people who've been ripped off by scammers answering ads on Craigslist and sites that use social media to connect buyers and sellers.

While the deal seems straightforward, the buyer asks to meet the seller and the buyer pays in cash.

But, the cash turns out to be fake.

Police say they’ve seen $20, $50 and $100 counterfeit bills.

“The bills have the same serial number on it. This is low quality counterfeit money,” Sgt. Connellan said.

Police in Syracuse and Camillus have been working together to investigate more than 30 reported cases.

Tune into NewsChannel 9 at 5 p.m. on Tuesday to hear a Liverpool woman’s story about her encounter with the counterfeiters and how she beat them at their own game.

“This is a current, ongoing investigation and we have a lot still going on with this. We've made several arrests, but we believe there are more people out there committing these scams,” Sgt. Connellan said.

To avoid becoming a victim of this scam police suggest:
  • Ask the buyer to meet you in a public place
  • Have someone with you during the transaction
  • Be wary of a buyer that unexpectedly tries to change the location of the transaction
  • When dealing with large sums of money, don't be afraid to tell the buyer you want to check the bills
  • If a transaction doesn’t feel right, don’t be afraid to walk away
Police say the following suspects have been arrested in connection with the scam:

20-year-old Shahied McDonald is charged with:
  • 17 counts Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, a Class C felony
  • Grand Larceny, a Class E felony
18-year-old Jamell White is charged with:
  • 21 counts Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, a Class C felony
  • 4 counts Petit larceny, a Class A misdemeanor
17-year-old Jon Bryant is charged with:
  • 10 counts Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, a Class C felony
  • Petit larceny, a Class A misdemeanor
Syracuse Police say more charges are pending against the suspects and believe more people are involved in the scam.

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