TEMPE, AZ — A Tempe Home Depot worker in charge of preparing cash register money to deposit into the bank has been arrested, accused of swapping real cash with counterfeit money.
The U.S. Secret Service says Adrian Pineda is accused of passing $387,500 in counterfeit U.S. currency.
Pineda would allegedly take genuine currency from the Home Depot deposits and swap it with counterfeit currency during his shifts. Between 2018 and January 2022, Home Depot recorded $387,500 in losses due to counterfeit money in their deposits, all believed to be connected to Pineda.
A criminal complaint states Pineda was caught on camera over a dozen times taking cash slated to be deposited to the bank and replacing it with counterfeit cash from his wallet.
The Secret Service measured Pineda was doing this for over three years.
"What makes it difficult for a store like Home Depot or a large cash deposit, so many of the other notes are going to be genuine and when it's comingled in with just a few counterfeits, the initial stage they may get through but you're going to eventually get caught,” said Secret Service agent Frank Boudreaux Jr.
While Pineda was being arrested on January 31, Secret Service agents allegedly seized $5,000 in counterfeit money and $5,300 in real currency. An additional $22,000 in real currency was allegedly found during a search warrant at Pineda's home.
"The Secret Service was originally formed in 1865 to enforce federal laws against counterfeiting," said U.S. Secret Service Phoenix Field Office Special Agent in Charge Frank Boudreaux Jr. "This case illustrates the continued commitment of the Secret Service and the US Attorney's Office to investigating and prosecuting counterfeit violations. Yesterday's arrest and search warrant operation marked the culmination of a strategic investigation enacted by Phoenix special agents, Home Depot security personnel and Wells Fargo Bank. I'm extremely proud of the hard work and dedication of all involved and thank our partners for their commitment and vigilance."
Federal investigators later found out Pineda has bought the fake cash on Amazon over twenty times.
The criminal complaint states when confronted about it, Pineda admitted to the crime and agreed to pay back $400,000 to Home Depot.
Pineda could also face up to 20 years in jail. He will appear in federal court on Monday in Phoenix for violation of "18 USC 472 - Uttering of Counterfeit U.S. Currency."