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Man charged with using phony money to cover cab fare

A 43-year-old Buffalo man was arrested Saturday for using counterfeit currency, after twice using phony money – with the same cab driver – to pay for short rides from the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino.

Raphael Torres, of O'Connell St. in the First Ward, was charged with first-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and theft of services.

A taxicab driver told Buffalo Police he picked up Torres from the downtown casino at 1 Fulton St. and drove him to Perry and Hayward streets, where Torres paid him with a $100 bill. The driver gave him $90 in change, and Torres ran away through the yard.

The driver then realized the bill was fake, returned to the casino, and notified security and Buffalo Police, who confiscated the bill and notified the Secret Service. A check of security cameras found that Torres had walked onto the property and went straight to the taxis without ever entering the casino.

Torres then pulled virtually the same maneuver, with the same driver, this time paying a $3.30 fare with a fake $20 bill and again getting away. But this time the driver recognized him from the earlier incident and informed casino security and police officers, who were able to find and arrest Torres.

A third counterfeit incident also occurred Saturday evening at the casino, when a driver for Bison Cab picked up a white male passenger heading to South Park Avenue in Hamburg.

Again, the passenger had the driver stop on Hayward Street in Buffalo, where he paid for a $3 fare with a counterfeit $20 bill. Again, casino security cameras showed the man had walked from South Park through the casino's Bravo Lot and directly to the cabs.

No one has been charged with the third incident.

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