CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) – As ofFriday, an investigation into a four-state counterfeit ring has been turnedover to the secret service.
Only a week ago, Matthew and JenniferTarwater were arrested on forgery charges after an undercover operation at a localmotel revealed manufacturing equipment and hundreds of dollars in counterfeit money,according to Craighead County Sheriff Deputies.
Police say the printed bills are thoughtto be circulating around Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee.
"It (the money)actually feels real and the reason it feels real is because the paper is realcurrency paper. It's the image that is fake," said Investigator JustinRolland with the Craighead County Sheriff's Department.
The counterfeit culprits—the Tarwaters—are ahusband and wife duo from Little Rock.
"They were able to take a real one dollarbill and they were able to bleach the ink completely off," said Rolland.
Rolland says from there, that blank paper wasthen used to copy the image that resembles a fifty or hundreddollar bill.
"We contacted the United States SecretService early due to the nature of the investigation," said Rolland.
A four day long undercover investigation endedwith a counterfeit money sting at a local hotel, confiscating $18,000 incounterfeit money and equipment used for manufacturing the bills.
Both suspects were arrested on 18 counts ofForgery in the first degree, and because the money was printed on real currencypaper, Rolland says businesses might not realize it's counterfeit.
"Through the course of the investigation,we learned that counterfeit pens, that are used by a lot of businesses, may notnecessarily work in these types of bills," said Rolland.
Rolland wants to alert businesses to examinelarger bills. "These bills do not contain a water mark. So look forthat water mark because the water mark is still extremely hard for them toduplicate," said Rolland.
Along with the forgery charges, Matthew andJennifer Tarwater also face charges for possession of meth and drugparaphernalia. Several agencies played a hand in the investigation includingthe Craighead County Sheriff's Department, Monette Police Department, 2ndJudicial Drug Task Force, and the United States Secret Service.
Rolland says federal charges are also expected.The investigation is still on-going and more arrest could be made down theline.
We will continue to track this story, and bringyou an new developments.