A south suburban Flossmoor man is facing a federal counterfeiting charge for allegedly making phony $50 and $20 bills — nearly $20,000 of which were passed at suburban Target stores to purchase iPads and other high-end electronics.
Ahmad J. Warnell, of Flossmoor, was charged with making fake $50 and $20 bills in a complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court.
Authorities began investigating July 14 after a Target loss-prevention supervisor contacted the U.S. Secret Service and said two women had passed counterfeit bills at several suburban Target stores, according to an affidavit filed with the complaint.
In all, the women used the fake bills to buy nearly $20,000 worth of Apple iPads, iPods, Sony cameras and other goods during 13 visits to suburban Target stores across the Chicago area, from Naperville to Tinley Park, the affidavit said.
During an interview with authorities, one of the women identified the go-between bringing them the fake currency — the same person who would pay the women for their receipts and items, then return them to Target stores for cash.
According to the affidavit, that go-between led authorities to a man — the man he said was providing him the counterfeit money.
That man was arrested Friday after authorities allegedly saw him take $800 in cash from the go-between and provide him $8,000 in fake bills in return, during a pre-arranged meeting under surveillance at Pete’s Farmer’s Market in south suburban Calumet City, the affidavit says. He initially denied taking the $800, but authorities later allegedly found it inside a lower body cavity.
He led investigators to Warnell, who was arrested at his Flossmoor home and allegedly found in a car with $900 worth of counterfeit cash. A federal search warrant later turned up uncut sheets of suspected counterfeit bills and money-making equipment from his home, the affidavit claims.
The filing did not say whether authorities had charged the man Warnell claims gave him the equipment and taught him how to use it, according to the documents. Warnell remains in federal custody.