HOUSTON - Syed Ali has never been in trouble with the law, but now he's facing a forgery charge for using counterfeit money.
Ali paid for a $3.44 meal at this Taco Bell drive-thru with a $10 bill, change he says he got from his dad after a purchase earlier in the day at a Alief Home Depot.
Now that bill is evidence in the case against him. The employee at the drive-thru told him it was a fake.
"I gave him another form of payment," said Ali. "He accepted that. I then asked him 'Can I just see it for one minute to see if it's fake' and he wouldn't let me see it."
When Ali kept insisting to inspect the bill himself, Taco Bell warned him they'd call the police. Ali asked them to do just that.
"If the cashier had showed me beforehand, I would've just left," said Ali. "Since he was giving me unanswered questions, I decided to stay."
But Harris County Sheriff's deputies arrested him and booked him into the Harris County Jail for forgery.
"This type of thing could happen to you, me or anyone," said KHOU 11 Legal Analyst, Gerald Treece. "You don't know, you don't verify the currency in your billfold."
Treece says if this were to happen to you, don't demand to see the money or get it back.
"His insistence to want the contraband back is what got him in trouble," said Treece. "He can still get out of the law because he doesn't have the intent to defraud."
Now Ali is hoping to avoid jail time over a fake $10 bill that ended up in his wallet.
"Pretty worried that I won't be able to get a job or anything like that, I hope it doesn't happen," he said.
If convicted, Ali could be sentenced from two to ten years in jail.
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