NEW PORT RICHEY — The women appeared at drive-through windows, behind counters and in parking lots. They offered their money in exchange for fast food and bigger bills. When the recipients checked twice, deputies say, they realized they'd been fooled. The bills were fake.
Laura Fossett and Melissa Snipes are suspected of trying to pass off fake $5, $10 and $20 bills at least 60 times in the past two months, deputies say. Wendy's and McDonald's cashiers and a Walgreens clerk caught the fake bills with authenticity-testing markers, Pasco sheriff's reports state, and eventually led deputies and U.S. Marshals to the women.
They heard Fossett and Snipes had been hopping hotels since the counterfeiting began and found them Thursday night in Room 104 of the Econo Lodge at 6828 U.S. 19 in New Port Richey. A printer, uncut sheets of counterfeit money, ink cartridges and cutting tools sat around the room, the report states — $1,893 worth of fake money.
Sgt. Justin Ross of the sheriff's economic crimes unit said the women paid for the hotel with real money: the template they were using for the counterfeit bills.
He said they confessed to printing fake money and exchanging it to buy drugs.
"They didn't want to give counterfeit money to a drug dealer," he said. "It never ends well."
Both women have lengthy arrest records in Pasco.
Fossett, 34, has been convicted of possession of cocaine, dealing pills and fleeing police, records show. She was arrested on charges of forgery and altering bank notes. She remained in the Land O'Lakes jail Monday in lieu of $20,000 bail.
Snipes, 24, has past convictions of trespassing and dealing in stolen property. She was arrested on forgery charges and remained in jail Monday in lieu of $4,000 bail.
Contact Alex Orlando at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6247.