Plot thickens for phony money case

Sheriff Jim Mullett lays out some of the counterfeit bills seized in Garvin County in recent months as one suspect is now in jail and additional arrests are expected. (PV Democrat photo)

One woman is now in a Pauls Valley jail and others could soon join her for taking part in what looks to be a wider plot to make phony money.

It's a small operation on an amateur level that has Heather Tucker, 29, behind bars and the Garvin County Sheriff's Office and U.S. Secret Service hot on the trail tracking down her fellow counterfeiters.

Garvin County Sheriff Jim Mullett said he's anticipating more arrests soon, maybe three or more, in a counterfeit money scheme possibly touching a number of counties in the region.

“We want to get all the players involved,” Mullett said this week during a press conference in his office.

“We're about to close it in and make some more arrests. I just want people to be aware of this.”

The investigation started back in early September when employees at an Elmore City convenience store contacted the sheriff's office about a customer using counterfeit money to make a purchase.

It was the Speedy G's store located just southwest of Elmore City.

“They had surveillance showing her passing a $20 bill that was definitely counterfeit,” the sheriff said, referring to Tucker.

“The clerk said when they first picked up the bill they could tell something was wrong with it just by the way the paper felt.”

Employees at a second store in Elmore City also identified Tucker as the person who passed a counterfeit bill.

Agents with the Secret Service were then called in at the request of the sheriff as they were actively looking for Tucker.

That led to a house south of Elmore City, which Mullett says a search showed it was the home of the counterfeiting operation.

There authorities seized computer hard drives, printers, color ink, some actual counterfeit bills and cloning devices for credit cards.

“We found their operations of how they're doing it,” the sheriff said. “It was not an elaborate scheme. It's a home counterfeit scheme.

“They were taking dollar bills, wiping them and trying to make bigger bills. With some others they just used a copier.”

Most of the fake money seized in this county are $20 bills, but there are some $50 and $100 denominations.

Other counterfeit money has also been passed in area cities like Ardmore, Purcell and Oklahoma City.

As for Tucker, she was actually taken into custody back on Oct. 19 and given a misdemeanor charge of forgery.

“Heather is the only one arrested but there other people of interest. We're in the process of putting everything together.”

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