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Hialeah Gardens couple accused of passing phony $100 bills in Keys

Authorities say couple used counterfeit bills with identical serial numbers

Deputies say Francisco Montes-Quinones and Mariela Carvajal-Perez were passing counterfeit $100 bills at businesses in the Florida Keys.

TAVERNIER, Fla. – A Hialeah Gardens couple was arrested Thursday after they were caught passing counterfeit $100 at businesses in the Florida Keys, Monroe County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Becky Herrin said.

Francisco Montes-Quinones, 70, and his wife, Mariela Carvajal-Perez, 52, were arrested on felony forgery charges.

Herrin said a cashier at a Key Largo consignment shop rejected a woman's attempt to pay for a purchase with a phony $100 bill. The cashier noticed that it was fake, gave it back to the woman and then called authorities.

The woman left with a man in a black Ford Ranger pickup truck, and a detective later spotted the truck parked in front of a hardware store near mile marker 92.

Herrin said the detective questioned the driver, who was alone, and asked to see the man's money. The man, later identified as Montes-Quinones, opened his wallet, and the detective noticed identical serial numbers on several different bills, Herrin said.

Most of the counterfeit currency was later found in an envelope above the sun visor of the truck, Herrin said.

The woman, later identified as Carvajal-Perez, exited the Island Décor store nearby carrying a shopping bag, Herrin said. The detective went into the store and spoke with the owner, who confirmed that Carvajal-Perez had just made a purchase with a $100 bill and received $78.50 in change. Herrin said the bill turned out to be counterfeit.

Herrin said Montes-Quinones had 19 fake bills in his possession. She said investigators are trying to determine if the couple is responsible for other reports of fake $100 bills being used at upper Keys businesses in recent weeks.