SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — A former resident of Maryland and New Jersey is being held without bail in Massachusetts, accused of stealing $50,000 from the owners of a Springfield pizza business through a “black money” scam.

Federal prosecutors say Cole Williams and another suspect told the business owners that they wanted to buy their shop for $150,000 using money they claimed to have smuggled out of Africa. They convinced the victims to give them $50,000 to buy chemicals to wash bank note-sized paper they claimed to be real currency dyed black to avoid detection by customs officials.

Except for a few genuine currency bills used to trap victims, the black money turned out to be black paper.

Charges against Williams include conspiracy and possession of altered U.S. currency with intent to defraud.

His attorney didn’t return a call for comment Friday.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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