Two men from Akron were sentenced to prison for using more than $38,000 in counterfeit $100 bills to buy iPads, Apple Watches and other items at stores such as Target, Best Buy and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Tori Smith, 35, was sentenced to nearly five years in prison last week. Allyn Bell, 32, was sentenced Monday to three years in prison. Robert Peters, 31, also of Akron, is scheduled to be sentenced later this year according to a press release from the Department of Justice.
All three previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pass or utter counterfeit obligations or securities.
Smith, Bell and Peters conspired together between April 2917 and April 2018 to pass counterfeit $100 bills to purchase items that they sometimes returned to cash. They traveled together to stores Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio.
For example, on April 6, 2017, Bell passed four counterfeit $100 bills to an employee at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Butler, Pennsylvania to purchase items. Two days late, Bell traveled to the Dicks’s Sporting Goods store in Mentor, Ohio, and returned the items he purchased for cash, according to court documents.
On April 27, 2017, Peters passed seven counterfeit $100 bills to employees at the Kohl’s in State College, Pennsylvania to purchase two Citizen watches. The next day, at the Kohl’s in Macedonia, Ohio, Peters returned one of the watches for approximately $409.96, according to the indictment.
The defendants together made more than 20 such purchases as part of the conspiracy, according to court documents.
“These defendants traveled across several states ripping off businesses,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said.
“These defendants were part of a ring that passed over $38,000 in counterfeit currency in Northeast Ohio and multiple other states,” said Jonathan E. Schuck, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Secret Service’s Cleveland office. “They used counterfeit money to purchase not only merchandise like electronics and clothes but also paid for gas, food and hotel rooms with counterfeit currency, taking advantage of local businesses. This was a complex case that could not have been solved without the assistance from many other local and state police departments.”
This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ranya Elzein.