Vero Beach woman accused of creating counterfeit bills

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A Vero Beach woman is accused of making counterfeit currency after authorities were able to track one bill back to the source, the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.

Authorities arrested Lachon M. Lewis, 40, of 43rd Court, on Friday, April 9. She has since been transferred into the custody of the US Marshall Service.

She faces a felony charge of manufacturing counterfeit currency, according to the arrest report.

Authorities found and seized items they say were used to manufacture the phony money inside Lewis’ home.

Detective Milo Thornton said she had printed thousands of dollars worth of counterfeit money, but could not put a specific dollar amount on the printing.

Most of what was seized were counterfeit $10 and $20 bills at various stages of production, the detective said.

Det. Thornton said Lewis is part of a network of counterfeiters, which is under investigation. He said that people were putting in orders for thousands of dollars from Lewis’ network.

The detective worked with the United States Secret Service to determine where the counterfeit money was coming from. Throughout the course of the investigation, they were able to obtain enough information to get a search warrant for Lewis’ home.

Det. Thornton would not go into detail on how the fake money was created, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation.

The Sheriff’s Office has received numerous complaints regarding counterfeit money being passed at businesses within the county, Director Jeff Luther said in a prepared statement.

Det. Thornton estimates the Sheriff’s Office receives two or three new complaints of counterfeit bills every week.

“I have a lot of cases to go through,” he said.

Businesses have been warned to check bills for the security measures the US Treasury Department puts into the currency, including watermarks and red and blue fibers.

“The main thing is knowing the money,” Det. Thornton said, adding that people should be aware of what real money looks and feels like. He said people should also verify the legitimacy of the currency at the time of transaction, that way they can give an accurate description of the suspect.

Anyone who believes they may be in possession of counterfeit currency should contact their local law enforcement agency to report it.

Det. Thornton said those who suspect someone has passed phony money should not try to detain that person. Instead, take note of the person’s appearance to pass along to investigators.

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