Ann Arbor police make arrest in 'elaborate' counterfeit money and identity theft operation

Police believe California man was running mobile counterfeit operation

By Dave Bartkowiak Jr. , Shawn Ley - Reporter

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ann Arbor police arrested a California man this week in connection with what police call "an elaborate" counterfeit money and identity theft operation. 

Shawn Ingram, 30, of Simi Valley, Calif., was charged with 9 felony counts including counterfeiting and using a computer to commit crimes.

The 30-year-old man from Simi Valley, Calif. was arrested Monday at a hotel along the State Street and I-94 corridor, police said. He was tracked there after an Ann Arbor gas station clerk reported a counterfeit $20 bill. The clerk recorded the license plate of the vehicle driven by the man who used the counterfeit bill. 

Ann Arbor police said the license plate was tracked to a vehicle at Hertz car rental. Officers continued to canvass the area where other counterfeit bills had been passed and located the vehicle driven by the suspect in a hotel parking lot. The man was arrested as he exited a hotel elevator. 

Mobile counterfeit lab

Police said Thursday over the past several days numerous counterfeit $20 were passed in the Ann Arbor area. Detectives recovered several items which led them to believe a mobile counterfeit lab was being operated in Michigan for the past several months. They believe it has impacted at least three Michigan communities. Police also believe the man kept his operation mobile to increase his chance at success. 

Here are examples of the items seized by police: 

  • Several dozen sheets of counterfeit currency. (photograph below)
  • Several dozen counterfeit credit, debit, gift and iTunes cards. (photograph below)
  • Numerous electronic devices capable of manufacturing the IDs and credit cards.
  • Numerous fake drivers licenses

"It appears that the suspect steals a person's identity then uses this information to create credit cards," Ann Arbor police said in a statement. "Once the personal information is taken from victim, who are unaware of the ID theft, that information is used to manufacture the credit cards. We believe that this operation has crossed into several states. The suspect has used numerous rented cars and hotel rooms in what we believe is to keep the criminal enterprise mobile thereby increasing the likelihood of success. When arrested the suspect used one of his many alias names. Detectives have since confirmed his identify."

Police said felony charges have been requested through the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office and the suspect is currently lodged at the Washtenaw County Jail.

Suspected counterfeiter arraigned

Ingram faced a judge Thursday. When asked his name, he gave one of his known aliases -- Brian Hoppe.

The judge told Ingram that his fingerprints are not lying. Ingram came clean with the judge, giving her his full name and date of birth.

"Just based on the fact that when I asked you if you were Shawn Michael Ingram, you immediately lied about that and it wasn't until I explained about the fingerprints that you admitted to it, that for me is enough to believe you are a flight risk," the judge said.

Ingram was given a $100,000 bond.

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