CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. - Secret Service agents have broken up what they call a major counterfeiting ring operating out of Cobb and Cherokee counties.
The numbers are staggering, and fake bills are likely still making their way through metro Atlanta.
"I think the numbers speak for themselves. They were able to pass $1.1 million, so there's no doubt the note was good, because people continued to take it,” said Chuck Brand, with the Secret Service.
The $1.1 million was in phony $50 bills. Brand said a major counterfeiting ring, operating out of Woodstock and Marietta, printed fake cash for at least a year and a half.
Brand identified the ringleader as Heath Kellogg. Brand said he spread the bills throughout Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida.
"This was a very prolific case for our area," Brand told Channel 2's John Bachman.
Last year, agents seized a total of $3 million in counterfeit cash in north Georgia, so this bust’s $1.1 million is a big get.
"You're looking at almost half of what counterfeit currency was passed in (the) Atlanta district, numbers-wise," Brand said.
He said his investigators first learned of the ring in May 2011, as banks started turning in the fake $50 bills. Then, last June, they arrested someone in Conyers trying to pass some of the bills. That led them to Kellogg in Woodstock, and five others throughout metro Atlanta.
"They would sell it. They had runners," Brand said.
Agents said Kellogg was the printer. He is now in federal custody, but agents said not all of the fake money belonged to him.
"There is money out there (that) I'm sure hasn't been reported back to the Secret Service, so I'm sure a lot more (is) out there than (the) $1.1 million we know about," Brand said.
Click here to learn about how to spot a fake bill.