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Monday, May 21, 2018
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$5 bills changed to $100 bills, landing man in Hillsborough jail

TAMPA — He entered the stores carrying $100 bills.

At several, he left running as the clerk recognized the bill as counterfeit.

But Michael Marano also had his successes, using the fake money to buy beauty supplies for his hairstylist girlfriend.

The Tampa Police Department arrested him Monday on a charge of passing counterfeit currency, a scheme he had been practicing since July, investigators said. He remains in a Hillsborough County jail with bail set at $5,000.

Marano, 35, of Tampa, had been convicted twice for counterfeiting and was on probation for one of them, from September 2012, according to court records.

In July, he entered Salon Dejan in Port Richey where he made a $22 purchase and received $78 in change from the store clerk.

U.S. Secret Service recovered the $100 bill Marano used there and determined it was a counterfeit bill. The bill was originally a $5 note that was washed and reprinted with the $100 markings, according to court records.

Similar $100 bills were passed in July with similar serial numbers at Linksters Tap Room in Tampa and a Home Depot in Port Richey. Investigators believe Marano or someone working with him passed the counterfeit bills, according to court records.

This month Marano tried to pass a counterfeit $100 bill at Paul Mitchell the School in Tampa. The clerk refused the bill, and Marano was seen running from the store. The clerk told investigators that when he ran his hands over the bill Marano took the bill back and said he had a smaller one in his car. Marano left and never returned.

A week ago, Marano entered Pet City in Land O’ Lakes where he tried to use a $100 bill to buy dog treats. The clerk told investigators he held the $100 bill to the light and saw a $5 bill security strip and a watermark of President Abraham Lincoln.

The clerk told investigators Marano asked if the bill was a counterfeit and said he had just received it. He then took the $100 bill back and left the store, according to court records.

On Monday, Marano entered GolfTec in Tampa. He tried using a $100 counterfeit bill to buy a $25 golf club. The clerk at the golf store told investigators the ink smeared and the watermark wasn’t the image of Benjamin Franklin.

On the same day, Marano entered Happy Feet in Tampa to buy merchandise. The clerk noticed the $100 bill was a counterfeit and threatened to call police. Marano ran from the store and left the bill behind, according to court records.

After Marano was arrested Monday, police searched his Tampa home and found a cleaner used by counterfeiters to wash bills.

Marano’s girlfriend told investigators he asked her to get older $5 bills. He would wash them and reprint them as $100 bills by scanning them on a commercial color printer, according to court records. She told investigators he had been passing counterfeit bills since last year and that she saw him print bills at their home on Saturday, according to court records.

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Twitter: @jpatinoTBO

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