Our Pledge To You

News

At the Candy Shop, Ben Franklins came cheap, feds say

The Candy Shop operated out of a seemingly abandoned house in the 8000 block of South Union Avenue.

It wasn’t an official business, but a sign on the door listed goods for sale, including cigarettes, snacks and drinks. Also for sale: fake $100 bills, according to the U.S. Secret Service.

Earlier this week, federal prosecutors charged 24-year-old Joseph Macon with running a counterfeiting operation out of the Candy Shop and his nearby home in the Gresham neighborhood.

Macon told Secret Service agents he has made more than $19,000 in profit since the winter of 2014, according to a complaint filed in federal court. He admitted selling counterfeit $100 bills for $20 each, the complaint said.

Apparently, Macon wasn’t shy about being seen with a lot of cash. One photo on his Facebook account shows him fanning out dozens of bills in one hand and holding a small child in the other.

On Monday, Secret Service agents searched Macon’s home three doors from the Candy Shop. They seized printers, counterfeit $100 notes and bleached $1 bills he allegedly used to make the fake Ben Franklins, according to the federal complaint.

Macon was being held Thursday in a federal lockup downtown, records show.

Macon told agents he soaked $1 bills in Super Clean degreaser and scrubbed them with a toothbrush, then dried the bills with a heater and flattened them with an iron before printing counterfeit $100 notes on them, according to the complaint.

He also told agents he obtained old $100 bills from banks by saying he was an art student and needed them for a project. Older bills are easier to counterfeit, authorities say.

Macon was previously arrested on Sept. 23 in Greenwood, Indiana, along with his fiancee’s father, for allegedly passing counterfeit currency.

Despite that arrest, he said he resumed his counterfeiting operation in November, according to the complaint.

Banks across Chicago and in northwest Indiana, Missouri and Texas have reported finding at least 43 counterfeit $100 notes with the serial numbers Macon was allegedly using, agents said.

The Candy Shop operation was busted after Oak Lawn Police stopped a vehicle on Jan. 11 and found three fake $100 notes in the sun visor, authorities say. The people in the car were charged with possession of counterfeit currency and led authorities to the Candy Shop.

On Jan. 27, agents rooted through Macon’s trash and found a $100 counterfeit note, scraps of other bills, spent ink cartridges and other evidence of forgery, according to the complaint.

On Monday, agents returned to search Macon’s home. Macon, his fiancee and his three children were there at the time. Among the items the agents found were seven bleached $1 bills — under the mattress of a crib.