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Kokomo businesses, police fighting back against counterfeiting schemes

KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH) – The Secret Service says about $150 million in counterfeit bills are passed and seized each and every year. Police say these crimes are growing every year as technology evolves.

It’s causing police departments in our area to take decisive actions against counterfeiting.

Especially in Kokomo where businesses have been hit hard by counterfeit cash.

“Sometimes it makes you not want to accept cash when there’s several of them (counterfeit bills) floating around,” said Kyle Rayl, the owner of Soupley’s Wine & Spirits.

Rayl owns 10 stores throughout Kokomo.

“We’ve been educating our employees and having them keep their guard up to know what to watch for,” said Rayl.

Multiple Soupley’s locations and other stores in Kokomo were hit hard late last year with a string of counterfeit bills.

Kokomo police have made at least four arrests.

“They were purchasing small items that only cost a few dollars and then getting $90-something back in change and that’s where they were making their profit,” said Detective Mike Banush of the Kokomo Police Department.

Banush says one of the suspects was caught in Alabama.

“We got her name, worked the case where I had enough probable cause to get the warrant for her and she got picked up on my warrant,” said Banush, speaking of how they arrested Heather Klette.

“She hit five states that we know of. If you continue to commit crimes you’re going to get caught, eventually.

Banush says the motivation isn’t only money. He says drugs are behind many of the counterfeiting crimes.

“The majority have told me that they have drug addictions and the majority are addicted to heroin,” said Banush.

At Soupley’s they’re not only training employees what to look for, but customers as well.

“We like to train our regular customers and things like that and they’re like, ‘Thanks a lot, we can look for this if somebody tries to give us a bill and it looks a little funny, then we can look at it,’ said Kim Combs, a manager at Soupley’s  Wine & Spirits.

The new $100 bill has a series of security features including a 3-D security ribbon, color-shifting ink and raised printing.

Soupley’s employees are also educating employees at other businesses for what to look for.

“It affects everybody, its like a chain reaction. They’re not just hurting the business, they’re hurting everybody eventually,” said Combs.