Moorhead clerks foil counterfeiting scheme
Some heads-up work by clerks at a Moorhead convenience store helped lead police to three suspects in an alleged counterfeiting scheme late Wednesday.
Moorhead police Lt. Tory Jacobson said fake bills were accepted at some businesses and are believed to be circulating in the public. He asked residents to check their cash for counterfeit $10 bills and turn them in to Moorhead police if they find any.
Wednesday's incident involved two attempts to pass counterfeit bills at the M&H store at 510 Main Ave., assistant store manager Meghan Piekutowski said.
A man came into the store shortly after 11 p.m. and paid for $2 in gas, then traded in two $10 bills for a $20 bill, she said.
The clerk didn't realize the bills were fake until the man had left the store, but he informed the two clerks coming in for the graveyard shift about it and told them to watch out for counterfeits.
About 45 minutes later, just before midnight, two young women walked into the store and bought a couple of items, paying for them with a counterfeit $10 bill, Piekutowski said. They also tried to exchange two $10 bills for a $20 bill.
The clerk recognized the bills as fakes and said he didn't have enough money in his till to exchange the bills. The other clerk, unaware of what was happening, agreed to exchange the bills, but then saw they were fake and followed the women out to their car, took down their license plate number and called police, Piekutowski said.
"I'm extremely impressed with the employees," she said.
Moorhead police, with the help of the U.S. Secret Service, arrested the three people and seized evidence of counterfeiting, Jacobson said.
Rianna Mesa, 19, Ashley Perpuly, 18, and Richard Perpuly, 23, all of Moorhead, were arrested at the Perpuly residence at 910 2nd Ave. S. on suspicion of counterfeiting and taken to the Clay County Jail.
They could face federal charges in addition to felony-level charges recommended to the Clay County attorney's office.
Jacobson said the counterfeit bills have a different-feeling paper, no watermarks, no security strip and no green or red fibers within the bills. The bills end with the serial numbers of 2197A and 2219A.