A savvy store owner thwarted a plot to scam his business out of $30,000 worth of furniture, according to court records.
Three people – Solomane Bility, 32, Samba Soumare, 26, and Malcom Nimley, 21 – are accused of going to Furniture Warehouse, 1610 Washington Ave., on April 28, with the intention of using counterfeit money to steal furniture. According to the criminal complaint filed Monday against the three, they first visited the store on April 24, where they said they wanted to buy $30,000 in furniture and send it to Africa.
They returned on April 26, and said they imported cash here from Africa, covering the money in a black coating to avoid taxes. They said they remove the coating with a chemical, according to the criminal complaint, and that the money is legitimate and can be deposited into the bank.
The trio then demonstrated the money chemistry, placing two $20 they took from the store owner into a foil packet along with four black-coated bills. They poured a chemical into the packet, and then removed all the bills, which now appeared to be six $20 bills.
They then left, saying they would return later.
On Thursday, they came in again, the complaint states, proposing they return with $20,000 in the black-coated bills to pay for the furniture if the store owner would provide $10,000 in cash to assist with the process of washing the coating off the smuggled currency. The full $30,000 would then be returned to the store owner, according to court records.
The store owner was suspicious, however, and took video footage of the suspects and their vehicle – and called police.
Racine police researched the scam, known as the “black money scam,” the complaint states, and found that suspects talk victims into the scam, then given them stacks of black bills which turn out to be construction paper wrapped in plastic, and make off with the real currency.
The store owner allowed police to download the photos and video he recorded with the suspects talking about the scam, and told officers when they intended to return.
Investigators staked out the store, waiting for the suspects to return. Someone else from the department found the suspects’ car at a hotel, and tailed it throughout the city that day.
As the scam began, according to court records, police went into the part of the store where the suspects were bringing in the purported scam materials, and arrested the suspects.
The three are all originally from African countries, according to the complaint, but have been living in the Philadelphia area. The store owner described Bility as the mastermind; in conversations with police, he reportedly admitted attempting the black money scam to get $38,000 in furniture. Nimley and Soumare told police he had no idea there was a scam going on.
All three are charged with uttering and theft by false representation. Bility is also charged with resisting arrest. The three are in custody, and are due in court May 12 for a preliminary hearing.