A rash of counterfeit money has shown up the last several days at a variety of high school sporting events around Belmont County.
Bridgeport, Shadyside and St. Clairsville have all had counterfeit money pass through either their ticket booths or concession stands at volleyball and football.
The first incident occurred last Tuesday at a Bridgeport volleyball match.
According to Athletic Director Doug Tush, a man used a $50 at the gate for a $5 ticket. He then went to the concession stand and made a purchase with a $20 bill.
The man left the match, but didn't get his hand stamped to return.
Surveillance video inside the school - along with the counterfeit bills - were turned over to the Belmont County Sheriff's Department.
Shadyside High School Principal John Haswell said $280 in counterfeit money was accepted at the Fleming Field concession stand during last Friday's home football game.
"We had four $50 bills and four $20 passed," Haswell said.
All of the $50 bills had the same serial numbers as did all of the $20.
The bills were caught when the money was deposited at First National Bank and Shadyside band parents, who operate the concession stand, immediately filed a police report.
According to Haswell, some of the concession stand workers remember accepting the $50 bills, but none could remember who might have used the money.
"It's sad for the fact that this is money stolen from our kids," Haswell said. "We want to bring as much awareness to this as we can for our businesses in town and our people."
The St. Clairsville Band Parents also operate the concession stands at Red Devil Stadium and received $250 in counterfeit bills last Friday at their football game.
"They received some 50s and some 20s," said St. Clairsville Police Officer Jeff Gazdik, who is the school resource officer at the high school.
On Monday, St. Clairsville hosted soccer sectionals at the stadium and volleyball sectionals at the high school where another counterfeit $50 bill was discovered at the gate.
"The woman taking tickets remembers taking four $50 bills, but doesn't remember who gave them to her, but we were going to look at the video and see if she could identify the person," Gazdik said.
More fake money was also discovered at the concession stand at the volleyball tournament, which raised the amount of money to $370 at St. Clairsville's events.
Gazdik, who was waiting for the serial numbers from the bills accepted at St. Clairsville, initially didn't think the incidents were connected, but said he would compare the serial numbers.
"We're anxious to check the numbers and we'll work it as far as we can to see if we find can the person or people," Gazdik said.
He also said there hadn't been any counterfeit money passed at any businesses in St. Clairsville in the recent weeks.
"It seems like they're targeting sporting events," Gazdik said. "We hope all area schools really start watching the money and be careful."
Both Bridgeport and St. Clairsville have announced their intentions to use the pens that check for counterfeit money more often now.
"We used the pens last week at our football game," Tush said. "We're going to beef up our security as much as we can to try our best to prevent this."
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