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Counterfeit money scheme appears to continue in New Bedford

A 22-year-old man has been accused of passing three counterfeit $50 bills at a café in New Bedford. (Police photo)

A 22-year-old man has been arrested for passing three counterfeit $50 bills at a café in New Bedford.

Police said James Richard Rossi, of New Bedford, was charged with uttering a counterfeit note and carrying a weapon.

According to authorities, a bartender at Tilia’s Café on Acushnet Ave reported that a customer paid for drinks on Tuesday with two $50 bills.

“That afternoon, he used a third $50 bill to buy a single beer, then took the change and left,” police noted in a press release. “At that time, the bartender took a close look at the bills and determined they were counterfeit.”

Police said the bills were cut unevenly and no watermark was present.

Authorities later tracked down Rossi, who had a large folding knife on him.

In February, NBC 10 News reported that a cashier at the McDonald’s on Kings Highway was tricked. She said she feels terrible about being fooled.

“I didn’t take a good look at it and I should’ve checked it when I was supposed to, so that’s my fault,” Trinity Gonzalez, the cashier, said. “We're supposed to check a bill that’s over $20 with a counterfeit pen.”

Authorities showed NBC 10 the bills, which were marked with the words, “for motion picture use only.”

According to police, the suspect visited the fast-food restaurant multiple times that day with fake $50 bills. He successfully paid for his order at the drive-thru not once, but twice.

"[He] got his change, drove off, [and] within an hour he was back purchasing another $10 and some change worth of food,” Lt. Amos Mello of the New Bedford Police Department said. “Same thing. Got away with it.”

Gonzalez said she was multitasking, so she was distracted when interacting with the suspect.

“I was so busy taking both lanes and I was doing cash at the same time that it completely caught me off guard,” she said.

But when the suspect came by a third time, a different cashier realized what was happening.

“She noticed that something didn't look right,” Mello said, with Gonzalez adding, “I’m so thankful because she is a good worker and she caught it, like, right on.”

Police believe the fake money was purchased online.

In 2016, similar bills were used at multiple businesses.

“However, instead of $50 bills, they were $100 bills,” Mello said.

Meanwhile, Gonzalez is advising businesses to beware.

“Make sure to check twice,” she said.

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