NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Spring Hill police teamed up with Airport police to bust a major counterfeit ring at the Nashville International Airport on May 31.
Spring Hill police got intel that a major California fraud ring was flying back into BNA, presumably to commit more counterfeiting. When BNA Police stopped 36-year-old Marsha Armstrong and 48-year-old Toya Dumas, they had more than $10,000 in their suitcases. Some of that money was real, but most of it was fake.
“One of the subjects said they were coming here to buy merchandise with counterfeit money and then return the merchandise for cash, so use counterfeit money to wash it into something tangible they could use legally,” said Spring Hill Det. Mike Foster.
The suspects were identified on May 19 after $1,060 in counterfeit currency was passed at a Spring Hill Walmart.
When detectives checked the parking lot surveillance footage, they got a tag number to a Hertz Rental Car. The car came back to a San Bernardino, California woman who used her real ID to rent the car.
Soon police identified Dumas who had flown back to California.
Two weeks later, Spring Hill police received information that Dumas and a woman now identified as Armstrong were flying back into Nashville.
Airport police were notified, and BNA authorities stopped the two women, holding them for Spring Hill.
When detectives searched the women’s suitcases they found unopened packages that police believe the women were going to return for cash. Authorities also found counterfeit bills.
In the end, Spring Hill police say this crime syndicate passed $200,000 worth of fake money across the nation, including in Texas, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, and Mississippi.
The group also reportedly hit Tennessee hard from Memphis, to Nashville, to Knoxville.
Police say the group also passed bogus bills in Mt. Juliet, Smyrna, Murfreesboro, Cookeville, La Vergne, Hermitage, and Hendersonville.
Det. Foster said the group probably used a real bill mixed in with the fake money to get it by a distracted clerk. He added the women traveled abroad to avoid detection closer to home in California.
Detectives tell News 2, two other women, seen with the suspects arrested are also being sought.
“It is pretty profitable for them to do this, so they are willing to take the risk,” Foster said.
Spring Hill police are working with the U.S. Secret Service because of the substantial amount of fraud.
When arrested, Officer Mary Beth Lovett’s body-cam captured an interaction with the women. The exchange was friendly, and at one point, Dumas tells the officer; “I wasn’t making any excuses. I just fell on some hard times and made some bad decisions.”
The women are currently both charged with criminal simulation but other charges are expected.