CUPERTINO (CBS SF) — Tens of thousands of dollars in cash, all of it fake.
Along with printers, ink and fancy paper, investigators say it’s part of a cross-country counterfeiting operation broken up by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department, Fairfax police in Virginia and the U.S. Postal Inspector.READ MORE: Possible Explosive Device Outside Oakland Courthouse Forces Evacuations, Street Closures
“I want to commend the incredible work of the detectives for their determination and dogged efforts to bring this case to a closure,” Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said.
The scheme was uncovered when Fairfax police traced fake bills flooding their area to 44-year-old Eric Aspden, of Cupertino.
Aspden was arrested at his apartment where the printing of phony $20 bills allegedly took place over the last year and a half.READ MORE: Oakland City Council: Black Contractors Not Getting Fair Share Of Street-Paving Bids
Investigators say Aspden would take in orders and mail out bundles of the fake money as fast as he could print it.
“Mr. Aspden alone was responsible for shipping upwards of 2,000 packages a year of counterfeit currency linked to 30 different states, likely hundreds of thousands of dollars of counterfeit currency being flooded into our economy,” Smith said.
Most of the victims were small businesses around the country, places that didn’t check for the watermarks of real currency.
It’s not just looks, the bills feel like real $20 bills because of the kind of paper used. Investigators call it one of the most sophisticated operations they’ve seen.MORE NEWS: UPDATE: State Attorney General Opens Civil Rights Investigation into Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office
“Given the number of bills the suspect had and the amount of shipments, I imagine he and his customers were fairly successful at passing these bills.”