Secret Service tracking man arrested at Outlets at Silverthorne over counterfeit money
A Front Range resident with Virginia ties was arrested Jan. 9 and accused of trying to pass off fake $50 bills as the real deal — until Outlets at Silverthorne employees spotted the ruse.
On Friday afternoon, officers with the Silverthorne Police Department arrested Gary Migliaccio, 29, for probable cause of using counterfeit currency in the Red Village stores at the Outlets. Officials believe his plan was straightforward: The suspect would purchase a $10 gift card with a counterfeit $50 bill and ask for $40 in change, according to a release from SPD.
Migliaccio tried the same tactic at nine Outlets stores before employees noticed that the $50 bills looked suspicious. The employees then called the police, and officers apprehended the suspect outside of the Red Village before he left the property. He appeared nervous and refused to tell officers where he had been shopping, according to the release. Police officials say there is no evidence that the suspect was working with an accomplice.
“The best part of all this is that we’ve done training classes for the Outlets and we really saw them pay off,” said SPD chief Mark Hanschmidt, who claims officers were on the scene minutes after the first call. “The clerks recognized the counterfeit money, and with a good description of the subject that helped us get him before he could leave.”
At the time of arrest, Migliaccio had a Virginia driver’s license and was driving a car with Virginia license plates. The car was parked in the Outlets lot and officers searched the vehicle Friday night after the suspect was transported to the Summit County jail in Breckenridge. Officers recovered several items related to the alleged fraud, including eight counterfeit $50 bills and two large stacks of gift cards.
The majority of confiscated cards came from Outlets stores, but several came from out-of-state merchants, according to the news release. The Secret Service pursues counterfeit cases, and shortly after Silverthorne officers found the out-of-state cards in Migliaccio’s car, the federal agency sent agents to the suspect’s Front Range residence.
Hanschmidt said the investigation is now a joint venture between local police and the Secret Service.
Migliaccio was released on bond Saturday afternoon and returned immediately to a residence in Adams County, where police say he is living in a rented room. Secret Service agents were at the house when the suspect arrived. The agents confiscated more items related to cash counterfeiting, including two laptops, one ink-jet printer and more than 50 gift cards for Silverthorne and out-of-state merchants.
All told, law enforcement recovered $850 in counterfeit $50 bills and 65 gift cards totaling an undisclosed amount. Migliaccio faces up to a $15,000 fine and 15 years in prison if found guilty. He is still free on bond, and he won’t be formally charged until local and federal investigators complete their investigation.
“We usually see this during the holidays when employees are busy,” Hanschmidt said of the scheme. “They don’t always have the time to really examine currency when there’s a big line waiting behind them.”
Training pays off
Crowds or no, Hanschmidt says the Outlets employees who identified the counterfeit bills and passed along Migliaccio’s description helped his officers make a quick arrest.
Early each winter, the police department holds training for Outlets employees to brush up on the grim side of retail: counterfeiting, shoplifting, menacing behavior. This year’s training was held in early January — just a week before Migliaccio came to Red Village — and Hanschmidt says employees from several stores followed the police instructions faithfully.
Jayne Esser, general manager for the Outlets, was impressed by her team’s quick response.
Counterfeiters tend to target the shoulder seasons in May and October, she claims, when the local resident population is in flux between winter and summer.
Esser also says training doesn’t stop with Silverthorne police. Most tenants at the Outlets tend to be large, flagship brands with healthy corporate ties, and those brands hold in-house training to catch fraud.
“I’ll say it’s not that common,” Esser says of counterfeiting in Silverthorne. “We are primarily top brands with strong corporate offices, and they have a lot of these fail-safes already in place to find counterfeits.”
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