The Secret Service says a Home Depot employee admitted to swapping $387,500 in cash with pretend $100 bills marked 'PLAYMONEY' that he bought off Amazon

The Secret Service says a Home Depot employee admitted to swapping $387,500 in cash with pretend $100 bills marked 'PLAYMONEY' that he bought off Amazon
If you handle money often, consider wearing gloves to protect yourself from germs.Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images
  • A Home Depot worker in Arizona was arrested and charged with passing $387,500 in counterfeit money.
  • Officials say the employee admitted to swapping cash from the register with movie prop $100 bills.

An entry level vault associate at a Home Depot in Arizona was arrested last week on charges of passing counterfeit money totaling nearly $390,000 over a period of about three and a half years.

The US Secret Service, which was originally founded in 1865 to enforce laws against counterfeiting, said in a statement that Adrian Jean Pineda admitted to the crime when confronted by Home Depot supervisors and federal agents.

According to the complaint filed in the Arizona District Court, Pineda went on Amazon and bought pretend $100 bills designed for movie props and bearing the serial number "PLAYMONEY," which he substituted for real bills from the store's cash register.

As a vault associate for Home Depot — a position with an average hourly wage of $14, per Glassdoor — Pineda was responsible for preparing bundles of cash for deposit at a local Wells Fargo branch.

"He was just in a really good position to do the crime," Frank Boudreaux Jr., the special agent in charge with the US Secret Service's office in Phoenix, told The New York Times.


"He bypassed the first layer of counterfeit detection — the cashier," Boudreaux added.

A Home Depot spokesperson referred Insider to the Secret Service when reached for comment.

Security footage documented Pineda on at least 16 occasions taking fake bills from his personal wallet, mixing them into the register funds, and then pocketing the real money, the complaint said.

Home Depot alerted the Secret Service in December after it noticed an unusually high number of fake bills coming from the location where Pineda worked. The Secret Service says the store's losses totaled $387,500 from the scheme.

On January 31, a Home Depot asset protection manager confronted Pineda about the deception, after which he was interviewed by Secret Service agents who say he admitted to embezzling the funds and handed over seven fake bills and $5,300 in stolen cash that he had on his person at the time.


Pineda was hired in November 2017, and told agents he first swapped the fake cash in August 2018 and continued until the day of his arrest, the complaint said. Pineda will appear before a federal judge on Monday for a status hearing.