By Ted Scouten

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FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Caught on camera, a man spending counterfeit money who may be part of a South Florida ring that’s been operating for the last six months.

This is the first time investigators are seeing the face of anyone from the network. It’s a critical moment.

“If we do find the actual suspect in this particular case maybe it can lead to uncovering the entire network,” said Broward Sheriff’s Detective Dimos Charoudis.

Video captured him at a Target on Federal Highway in Deerfield Beach. It shows him scoping out the busy first-floor cashiers. He then heads up to the second floor where he makes his move – the purchase of a two-hundred dollar gift card using mostly fake money.

“He pulled out his wallet and he pulled out counterfeit US currency $100 and $20 bills and he completed the transaction,” said Charoudis.

Making this even more lucrative for the crooks, he bought a gift card, it’s like getting a free $200 to spend later.

“They’re actually using counterfeit money to purchase a gift card then they will use it to purchase other items,” said Charoudis. “This is a two way defrauding.”

Charoudis said this is a crime we should all care about.

“If you do get the counterfeit money you actually lose your money because that money is not valid,” he said. “If you bring it to a bank they will automatically take it away from you and you will not be reimbursed.”

So how do you know if a bill is fake? Charoudis said if you’re holding a $20 bill, note of the texture of the president’s jacket.

“You just take your fingernail and scratch it down, you can feel the ridges. If there are no ridges the bill is counterfeit,” he said.

If you know who’s responsible for passing off the fake money call Broward Crimestoppers at (954) 493-TIPS.

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