COLUMBIA — A Columbia man was arrested Friday afternoon on suspicion of making and using counterfeit money to purchase items at several garage sales.
John Patrick Mooney, 39, was arrested on four counts of forgery and faces the possibility of similar counts for other incidents that took place in Boone County, a news release from the Columbia Police Department said.
Police began receiving calls from sales taking place on St. Charles Road, Norwhich Drive, Butternut Court and White Oak Lane that items had been purchased using fake $5 and $20 bills. Some Bluff Creek Estates residents said a man had used one of the bills to buy an electric cooler and a Dremel tool at one garage sale and had hit at least two sales in the subdivision. One woman said the counterfeit money felt heavier than real currency.
Officers were given a description of the suspect’s vehicle and a possible license plate number, the news release said.
Police found a red Ford Ranger that matched those descriptions outside a Columbia restaurant and stopped Mooney as he left the building. He was with an older white woman with short white hair.
Officers were able to match items in the truck with those from the garage sales, and Mooney implicated himself in making the fake money and using it to buy various items, the news release said.
Residents of Wild Oak Street said word traveled around the neighborhood quickly and prompted another family hosting a garage sale to look through their money. They found a fake $5 bill that had ragged edges but that did not have certain markings when held up to the light. The bill also appeared to have been washed. The family didn’t notice they had received the bill amidst the bustle of their sale.
— Missourian reporters Kelli Rogers and Jessica Petzel contributed to this report.