FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, Ill. – For the second time in a month, counterfeiters swarmed stores in Fairview Heights, early Wednesday evening.
Police made three arrests. They’re now looking into whether this may be part of a larger operation beyond the St. Louis region.
Two women and a man hit at least nine stores in the Fairview Heights area in the span of just a few hours, police said.
Phony $100 bills turned up at Ulta Beauty, Bed Bath & Beyond, Petco, Fresh Thyme, Hooters, Sally Beauty, Dollar Tree, and Total Wine before the three suspects got caught in the act at a Walgreens, according to police.
All 9 stores are essentially neighbors near the St. Clair Square Mall.
“I used to work retail and they made us use this marker on it if it was a hundred bill,” said shopper Janelle Romine. “It’s supposed to turn a color if it’s counterfeit.”
Fox 2/News 11 obtained a color photo of one the phony bills.
Yellow test markings, which did not change colors, were still present on the bill.
Several store managers said the bills passed the marker test.
One manager believes the phony bills are actually $1 bills that have been bleached then reprinted with $100 markings so the paper passes the marker test.
According to another manager, Facebook posts alerted stores to the suspects in real-time, which led to a vehicle description and plate number for police, who caught the suspects at the Walgreens with a Hooters bag full of food still in their vehicle.
The suspects were not from the St. Louis area, police said.
They had yet to be formally charged, Thursday. Police did not release their names.
Investigators are looking into whether the cases are connected to similar crimes in Collinsville plus at least eight from last month.