Counterfeit coin changer strikes businesses throughout region - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Counterfeit coin roller strikes businesses throughout region

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Authorities want you to be on the lookout for a man accused of tricking cashiers at gas stations, restaurants, and hotels into handing over money for metal washers wrapped up in coin rolls. 

Businesses throughout the area have been taken for as much as $80 at a time. By the time they figure it out, the man is long gone.

So far the same suspect has covered a lot of ground.  He's been spotted in Columbus, Phenix City, Hamilton, LaGrange, and possibly other locations.  The manager of Thibodeaux Restaurant on Second Avenue in Columbus said he's seen the man in town before.

"Well he came in like a regular customer, placed an order, he needed some chicken. Then he asked my wife if she needed any change.  And she said sure, we always take change.  While he was waiting for his order, she happened to break open the change.  And that's when we discovered that it was nothing but washers in there," said Daniel Thibodeaux.

The man was seen on surveillance video running out of the restaurant right after his scam was uncovered.  A clerk at the Phenix City Ramada hotel was warned in advance by a hotel in Columbus that fell victim to the crime days before.

"I told him you're going to have to open these.  I can't just give you money because we've gotten word that something's going around town and there's washers in here.  He needs to get a job.  I work hard.  I don't need to lose my job over him coming in and trying to scam me," said Lesli Labombard.

The suspect went as far as to write a fake name and phone number on the rolls, but police say anyone accepting a large number of coins in exchange for bills or purchases should either ask for a driver's license or open the rolls themselves to ensure they are real.

He's been seen driving a maroon Chevrolet pick-up truck and may have an accomplice who rides in the passenger seat.

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