Counterfeit $100 bills hurting Hub City storesBy BUSTER WOLFE,
The Hattiesburg Police Department is asking local businesses that find some funny money in their cash registers to give them a call. It’s not that funny.
Reports of counterfeit $100 bills being found in Hub City businesses is causing problems for the storeowners, and law enforcement officials want it to stop.
HPD spokesman Ryan Moore said a whole bunch of fake money has been discovered all over the city.
“When I say, ‘a whole bunch,’ we have had counterfeit money at Revolution Fitness, Planet Fitness, Mugshots, Lovie’s, Brachman Mower Warehouse and Albritton’s Chain Saw and Lawn,” he said. “Those are just a few.”
The amount of counterfeit money involved and the number of times it is passed are important, Moore said.
“One thing that we need to stress to the businesses that are targeted by this in the Hub City is that they need to come down to the police department, contact the police department and file a police report,” he said. “These cases go farther when individuals do file police reports. Unfortunately, passing a counterfeit note or something like this is a misdemeanor crime. If you get a larger scope of this or a larger volume of this, it can escalate to the felony side. The federal agencies can also get involved. It goes down another road once federal agencies get involved.”
Law enforcement officials have discovered a person that they want to interview in connection with the fake bills, Moore said.
“We issued a BOLO – Be On the Look Out – for 26-year-old Darius Sumrall,” he said. “We have had reports of him, some people have even had surveillance video of what appears to be him coming into businesses. What will happen is the suspect is purchasing a small item using a $100 bill. Say it’s $7. He’s out the door with $93 of their money and $7 in merchandise and they have in turn received a counterfeit $100 bill.”
Moore said businesses need to be extra careful when they get money.
“Be cautious,” he said. “You have the ink pen that can check. Also, take a close look, especially if somebody is passing you $100 bills. Don’t just take them at face value. Be sure to use the pen. Go through your proper steps as business owner to do what you can to see that they are not counterfeit.”
The Hattiesburg Police Department should be notified as soon as possible if the counterfeit currency is passed.
“If you do find that you fall under a counterfeit scam, do contact us,” Moore said. “By all means, let us know so a report can be filed and we can keep track of it.”
The problem is not confined to the Hub City, Moore said.
“I know that there has been at least one other agency that has put something out on this individual,” he said. “So, I know that he is apparently making his way around the Pine Belt. But again, that’s where we stand on it, just a BOLO. We are informing businesses to please be on the lookout for this individual. If he does come in your store, if he does try to buy something, just be sure to check the money.”
Making a report will not take long, Moore said.
“If you are at the business and you call us, we can send a police officer to you to even help speed up that process,” he said. “It is something that is an ongoing investigation. They are still looking at this and they have also collected surveillance video from multiple businesses.”
The types of businesses that have been targeted are widespread, Moore said.
“I don’t think there is any rhyme or reason whatsoever,” he said. “It appears from all the cases we have so far and all the reports, for all we know it could also be gas stations and people just haven’t checked. It’s the same thing; if you happen to go into a gas station and pay for a stick of gum, you’re getting all that change in clean money.”