RIVERBANK -- Stanislaus County sheriff's detectives arrested a Target store cashier and two men suspected of making phony $100 bills at home and spending them at a Target store, a sheriff's spokesman said Friday.
An investigator from the Target in Riverbank tipped detectives that counterfeit $100 bills were being passed at the store. The inspector suspected a store employee was involved in the scheme, said deputy Royjindar Singh.
Detectives questioned a store cashier, Valerie Craven, 53, of Riverbank, about the fake money.
They then arrested her on suspicion of burglary, forgery, criminal conspiracy and making unauthorized paper money.
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The detectives obtained and served a search warrant Thursday at Craven's home in the 6500 block of Jackson Avenue, where they found equipment used to make counterfeit money, including computers, printers, a heat press, inks, dyes and paper cutters, Singh said. Investigators found more than $29,000 in counterfeit $100 bills.
Craven's boyfriend Clay Roberts, 57, and Michael Keys, 50, both of Riverbank, were at the home when the detectives arrived.
Singh said Roberts was arrested on suspicion of for-gery with intent to defraud, criminal conspiracy, burglary, making unauthorized paper money, possession of counterfeit money and possession of counterfeit plates.
He said Keys was arrested on suspicion of making unauthorized paper money, criminal conspiracy, possession of a fictitious bill or note, and parole violation.
According to the detectives, Roberts would use the counterfeit money at Target when his girlfriend, Craven, was working as a cashier.
Using a fake $100 bill, Roberts would buy an item that cost only a few dollars. Craven would then not verify the bill's authenticity and return the change in real money, according to detectives.
Target investigators believe the exchange occurred about three times since Feb. 4, and Craven made a payment on her Target credit card with two counterfeit $100 bills, Singh said.
The U.S. Secret Service is assisting with the investigation to determine if the counterfeit bills were used elsewhere.
"We think these guys have used the counterfeit bills in other areas," sheriff's detective Mark Copeland said.
"We want to get the word out to people that there might be some more counterfeit $100 bills out there."
Sheriff's detectives asked anyone who recently has received a counterfeit $100 bill in the Riverbank area to call Copeland at 652-1792.
Callers can leave an anonymous tip by calling CrimeStoppers at 521-4636 and be eligible for a cash reward.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2394.