The Secret Service is on the trail of teen-age counterfeiters making bogus bills at home and on school computers.

In the past 18 months, the Secret Service has investigated 12 counterfeit scams, seven of which involved juveniles, the Providence Journal reported March 8.

The cases involve teens from at least 10 Rhode Island school districts and three just over the border in Massachusetts.

In March, two Mansfield, Mass. teen-agers were taken into custody for allegedly making $665 in $5 and $20 bills on a home computer.

“When we respond to an allegation of a counterfeit note, we don’t know whether it’s an organized criminal group with possible drug involvement or a kid with a computer,” said John Enright, supervisory agent in charge of the Providence Secret Service Bureau.

Last April, two students allegedly tried to pass a pair of bogus $20 bills at the Coventry High School cafeteria. In September, a New Jersey man and a Providence youth were arrested after they allegedly tried to buy a cup of coffee with a fake $50 bill in Johnston.

In November, the North Providence police broke up a counterfeit ring where $4,000 in fake bills was circulated. Two people were charged, one a juvenile. In December, Pawtucket police broke up a counterfeit ring where two teens and three men were charged.

Police in Central Falls recently were called by a shop keeper who accused a teen-age girl of attempting to pass a counterfeit bill. Agents tracked down the source and confiscated two computer systems from two homes. Five juveniles are being charged in that case.

U.S. Secret Service