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Counterfeiting Operation In San Bernardino Discovered After Bad Bills Found In Ventura County

Some of the items seized from a counterfeiting operation in San Bernardino after two men were arrested in Ventura County

Some alert department store employees in Ventura County led to the breakup of a sophisticated counterfeiting ring based in San Bernardino County.

It started on Sunday, when two men stepped into a Moorpark department store, and tried to buy the same types of expensive items with big bills.

Sergeant Eric Buschow, with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, says the bills triggered suspicion among staff members at the Kohl’s store. They called Sheriff’s deputies, who discovered Donald Hagee and Mitchell Wagers had $15,000 in counterfeit bills with them.

The investigation led Ventura County detectives, along with the Secret Service to a San Bernardino home used as a counterfeiting lab. Detectives say the found everything from computers to printing ink, and paper specifically used for making counterfeit money. They also seized thousands of dollars in counterfeit bills.

The two men, along with a third person, a woman were arrested on multiple charges related to the counterfeit bills.

Investigators say the men were trying to buy expensive items they could later return, as a way of laundering the counterfeit money.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.