Two counterfeiters were busted May 19 after police discovered the wallet belonging to one of them, Alma Cabrera, 37, of Wasco, was full of fake $100 bills, according to a media release sent out by the .
The SCPD received reports at about 5 p.m. that a man and woman were attempting to pass counterfeit $100 bills at various downtown businesses. At the time of the call, Cabrera had successfully passed a fake $100 at a business in the 1200 block of Pacific Avenue.
An SCPD on-duty downtown officer noticed Cabrera handing her purse and several shopping bags to her accomplice, Thomas Wilson, 37, of Delano, and approached the duo after recognizing Cabrera based off a description provided by one of the victims.
Cabrera informed the officer that she was looking for her wallet. The officer offered to help in the search and asked both if they were on probation and parole. Neither said they were.
A second officer arrived on scene and proceeded to help Cabrera search for her wallet while the first officer stayed with Wilson. The officers were informed that both Cabrera and Wilson were on probation for fraud.
Cabrera's wallet was located in a restaurant in the 1200 block of Pacific Avenue. Inside the wallet were several fake $100 bills. As the officers detained the offenders, Wilson discarded some waded up counterfeit $100s into the gutter. Those funds were subsequently recovered.
After an employee of one of the victimized businesses identified Cabrera and Wilson as the two who had—unsuccessfully—attempted to pass a fake $100 bill, the two were taken into custody at the Santa Cruz County Jail.
Inside Wilson's vehicle, which was parked downtown, officers found 58 counterfeit $100 bills.
Police determined the pair were staying at a motel in Seaside. Officers obtained a search warrant for their motel room and found items of "evidentiary value."
SCPD investigators contacted the Secret Service to aid in their investigation. Secret Service agents met with detectives May 20 and 21 and helped to process evidence.
Because it appears Wilson and Cabrera are on federal probation, the Secret Service will take a lead role in the investigation.
At the time the release was sent out, it appears that at least three downtown businesses were victims of counterfeit bills with at least one additional business refusing to accept the funds. However, detectives believe there may be additional businesses victimized in both Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.
Cabrera and Wilson's M.O. appears to have been to make smaller purchases of items to get change for their $100 bills.
Anyone with additional information, or believe they may have been a victim of the counterfeiting, can contact Santa Cruz Police Department Investigations at 831.420.5820 or leave a tip via our website or mobile apps.
To Leave ANONYMOUS information regarding this incident, please call our TIP LINE (831) 420-5995