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DRAPER — Police say there was enough legitimate information among three counterfeit money cases to make an arrest, and the Secret Service says the matter is not closed yet.
Tylor E. Paul, 24, Sandy, was charged Friday with three counts of forgery, a third-degree felony; 1 count of possession of a forged document, a third-degree felony; and three counts of theft by deception, a class A misdemeanor.
The Secret Service had been looking for Paul after a man selling a laptop computer on ksl.com in mid-March reported that a buyer driving a red Dodge Durango paid him with counterfeit bills.
Then on March 31, Marcel and Candice Cochegrus, who were selling their flat-screen TV to put together a down payment on a house, learned when Marcel took the money to the bank the next day that the cash given him was counterfeit.
Officers pieced enough information about the two cases together to present the victims with a lineup of photographs. "They both chose Tylor Paul, who provided them with the counterfeit US Currency," the police report reads. There were also similarities in the description of the buyer's vehicle, and all of the cases involved merchandise that was advertised for sale on ksl.com.
A KSL-TV news report about the Cochegrus' situation came to mind of a third man selling an iPad when met a potential buyer in a grocery store parking lot in Draper on April 7. The seller later told police he did not complete the deal because he thought the color of the money was off. That seller gave police the buyer's license plate number and a description of his vehicle, which was spotted by police 30 minutes later. Officers took Paul into custody after he pulled into a gas station.
The police report says Paul gave officers information about where the counterfeit bills were made. Draper Police and the Secret Service both said their investigations are continuing.
"Within the last couple of days we've actually received a couple of phone calls from some informants that are leading us to where the TV might be," Draper Police Sgt. Chad Carpenter said. "We've been working pretty closely with the secret service on this."
Candice Cochegrus said she and Marcel now know what to do to protect themselves the next time they have something to sell. "We could have gotten the guy's real name. We could have gotten the license plate number. We could have looked at each bill and noticed — hey — each bill has the same serial number. But because we're honest people we don't look at the serial numbers on cash."
ksl.com General Manager Brett Atkinson said after learning of the Cochegrus' case that monitoring fraud "is a huge priority" on the website and that the company invests a lot of its own resources to try and combat fraud. He said problems that arise in the face-to-face transaction between the buyer and seller are not exclusive to any particular medium.
"We do post messages about how people can try to be aware of what they're doing in their transactions," he said. There is also information on the website about avoiding fraud and resources for someone who is a victim of fraud.
Glen Passey, Secret Service resident agent in charge in the Salt Lake office, described three key things to look for on paper money to determine whether it is authentic. One is the numeral denoting the value of the bill that is near the lower right-hand corner, which should change colors when the angle of view is changed. "Counterfeiters almost never go to the trouble of doing that."
Another is the security thread that runs vertically through the bill, either on the left or right side depending on the denomination, that alternately repeats the words "USA" and "TWENTY," or whatever matches the denomination of the bill. The third identifier is a watermark on the right side of the bill that contains an image that matches the portrait printed in the center of the bill.