The next time you get a $100 bill, you might want to double-check and make sure it is not actually a $5 bill.
Lodi police have arrested several people in connection with a counterfeiting ring, but they are not sure how many fake bills had been passed before the arrests.
What they do know, Lodi Police Sgt. Tod Patterson said Monday, is that the bills looked good enough that local merchants accepted them as $100. Now the U.S. Secret Service is involved.
The case began to unravel last week when a man tried to use such a bill at Lowe's in Lodi, Patterson said. The entire transaction was captured on surveillance video, which the store turned over to police, along with the fake bill.
Detectives viewed the video and recognized the suspect as a man who has other forgery and drug warrants, Patterson said.
That was enough for detectives to get a search warrant, which they served Thursday in the 3500 block of Scottsdale Road in south Lodi. There they arrested Shelie Radotic, 29, and Tracy Lutz, 41, and suspicion of 20 counts each of making a fictitious bill, Patterson said.
Both women allegedly had fake $100 bills on them, Patterson said.
The bills looked real, he said, but a security stripe inserted into the bill read "USA FIVE" when held up to a light. The bill also had a slight smudge when looked at closely.
Police found computers with counterfeit software, Patterson said.
Officers arrested a third woman, Tami Deanda, 41, in north Lodi on suspicion of forgery and possessing methamphetamine for sale, the detective said.
They are still looking for the man police say appeared on the surveillance video. Patterson identified him as Clinton Irons, 32, and said a female friend of his, Holly Hayworth, 28, is also being sought.
Most of the suspects lived at the Scottsdale Road home and Radotic, a shipping and receiving clerk, was the only one with a job, according to police.
Lodi police notified the U.S. Secret Service, which investigates some counterfeit cases, and investigators from that agency are now involved.