MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Minnesota woman is accused of being part of a couple who have been printing fake money and using it to buy lottery tickets in the north metro.

Tana Spitzengel, 24, of Monticello, is charged with felony and gross misdemeanor counts of counterfeiting currency, state lottery fraud and giving false information to police, court documents filed in Anoka County show. A 28-year-old man is also accused in the fraud.

According to a criminal complaint, Spitzengel used fake bills to buy lottery tickets Tuesday at a Blaine gas station. The clerk told investigators that a woman threw the bills on the counter and ran out into a pickup truck with a man behind the wheel.

Lottery officials told investigators that one of the tickets purchased with the fake bills was redeemed at another Blaine gas station. Officers responded and found Spitzengel in a pickup truck along with the 28-year-old man. Also found were two laptop computers, ivory-colored paper, two partially printed fake bills, and more than $150 in counterfeit currency.

Investigators say Spitzengel initially gave police a false name. When they figured out her true identity, they noticed there was an active warrant for her arrest.

Spitzengel and the 28-year-old man are suspected in making other purchases this month with counterfeit bills, the criminal complaint states. One purchase was at a Taco Bell in Blaine; the other was at a Monticello gas station where lottery tickets were purchased.

If convicted of the felony counterfeiting and lottery fraud charges, Spitzengel faces decades in prison.

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