Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Counterfeiting plan concealed the real scam

TAMPA — A man brought three $100 bills to a top-floor room at the Tampa Marriott Waterside.

The plan: Counterfeiters would buddy the bills with clean paper and douse the whole works in chemicals. As the ink bled, the clean paper would turn into money.

The catch: The results wouldn't appear for six hours. And by then, the counterfeiters would be gone.

The twist: The man was an undercover Tampa police officer, whose work Wednesday helped send three people, all Liberian nationals, to jail to face charges of scheming to defraud and grand theft.

"Everybody's looking for more money these days," said Tampa police Detective Fred Naranjo. "Victims fall prey to this. I wouldn't. But then again, other folks do."

An informant led police to three suspects: John T. Davis, 36, Sekou Doukoure, 33, and Siaka S. Kamara, 32.

Now, Naranjo is looking for victims in the scam. Police found $1,500 in crisp $100 bills in the hotel room, along with a laptop and several credit cards.

The suspects, who share a home in Grayson, Ga., met strangers at gas stations and night clubs and promised to double their money, police said.

One of the men told police he owned a car dealership and was on his way to Orlando to buy vehicles when the trio stopped in Tampa to visit a night club and pick up some side money, Naranjo said.

Police know the scheme as "black money," "pigeon drop" or "wash, wash," It's in a league with "advance fee" scams, in which people are told they've won millions but can't collect until they send in a fee, said Secret Service assistant special agent-in-charge John Seybold.

Naranjo compared it to a shell game or the "priest" scam where someone dons a robe and dupes donors to give to charities that exist only in his pocket.

In this case, Naranjo said, the men ducked into a bathroom pretending to dunk the undercover officer's money into a bucket of chemicals.

They emerged with a packet wrapped in black electrical tape and told him not to open it for six hours so the bills could dry.

By then, police figured, the men would have checked out of the hotel.

After the arrest, Naranjo opened the pouch. His $300 wasn't in it. He found only a rag, which smelled like ammonia and Coca Cola.

"Very strong smelling," he said.

Much like the scam.

Justin George can be reached at

(813) 226-3368 or jgeorge@sptimes.com.

Were you

a victim?

To reach Tampa police, call

(813) 276-3200.

Counterfeiting plan concealed the real scam 03/26/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 26, 2008 11:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Two Kissimmee police officers killed; Jacksonville officers shot

    News

    KISSIMMEE — Two Kissimmee police officers were shot and killed Friday night, and one person was taken into custody, authorities said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of WESH.com
  2. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  3. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  4. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.
  5. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire

    Criminal

    PORT RICHEY

    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, relies on the help of her mother, Tranda Webb, 62, as she recovers from the burns covering her body.