Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 10, 2012

Women accused of using bogus money

Kenneth Hart
Associated Press

ASHLAND — Three women have been indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with an alleged counterfeiting scheme that affected businesses in Kentucky and in other states.

Chantal Campbell, Tierah O’Neal and Ashley-Monet Walcott were named in a four-count indictment charging them with passing counterfeit currency and conspiracy to pass counterfeit currency. They’re scheduled to be arraigned Friday in U.S. District Court in Ashland.

Court records do not list the women’s ages and addresses.

According to the indictment, the three engaged in a conspiracy to use counterfeit $100 bills to purchase items from various retailers, then return those items and exchange them for legitimate currency, and to use the bogus notes to send wire transfers via Western Union.

Campbell allegedly acquired an unknown number of fake bills, each in the denomination of $100, and O’Neal rented a car to drive herself and her co-defendants to various locations in different states to pass the notes, the indictment states. The trio traveled from either New York or Delaware to Kentucky, stopping at numerous retailers to pass the bills along the way.

The bills were used to purchase mainly electronic items, including Apple iPads, digital cameras, video games and other devices. Retailers that were victimized included, but were not limited to, Staples, Home Depot, Target, Walmart, Kroger and Kmart.

The trio also allegedly used the fake bills to make wire transfers at various Western Union locations. The person on the receiving end of the transfer would receive genuine currency, causing a loss to Western Union, the indictment states.

On March 5 of this year, the three went to the Morehead Walmart, where they allegedly passed 30 of the phony $100 bills, according to the indictment. That same day, Campbell allegedly returned an iPod that had been purchased with the fake money and received $300 in real currency.

Also on March 5, the three allegedly made a wire transfer with bogus bills from the Western Union in the Morehead Kroger.

The defendants could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison if they are convicted of the charges.

The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of $5,508 in currency and two dozen electronic items the women allegedly obtained as a result of their crimes.

An indictment is a formal accusation of a crime and does not establish guilt.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.