(Image courtesy: Getty Images)

CARTHAGE, Mo. — A Carthage man who allegedly sold valuable, historic civil war-era currency, and collector watches, is accused of counterfeiting and fraud by several people in various states across the U.S.

Jeremy Tewell of Carthage, Missouri is named by at least four different dealers that specialize in valuable collections, including coins, currency, and fine jewelry. All of them accuse Tewell of selling or attempting to sell items of rarity and/or worth. In our independent investigation, KSNF/KODE spent several weeks researching these claims. Not only did we speak with the alleged victims — all of them sharing similar stories about what they say is fraudulent activity involving Tewell — we also spoke with coin/currency and collection experts, as well as law enforcement, including the United States Secret Service.

Those who claim to have been defrauded by the Carthage man are spreading the word on social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram — in an attempt to warn others about the lack of authenticity about items that Tewell has recently sold or tried to sell online.

Efforts to spread the word about Tewell’s alleged scams, caught the attention of a private organization called the Numismatic Crime Information Center (NCIC). According to their website, the NCIC, “serves as a national and international resource for collectors, dealers and law enforcement in the education, prevention, and investigation of crimes involving coins, paper money, tokens and related numismatic items.”

NCIC President, Doug Davis says the claims he received about Tewell’s online sales, prompted the NCIC to issue a post on their website and Facebook page that’s titled, “Numismatic Crime — Counterfeit Notes Sold Over Facebook.” The subtitle: “Person of Interest Selling Counterfeit CSA Notes Over Facebook.” The NCIC post goes on to say, “Several dealers have reported an individual who is attempting to sell photocopied examples of key Confederate States of America (CSA) notes to dealers through Facebook. The person of interest is known to go by the name of Jeremy Tewell and is based out of Joplin, Missouri.”

Our investigation into these claims lead us to Raleigh, North Carolina resident, Brad Ciociola who owns “Carolina Rare Coins and Currency.” According to Ciociola, Tewell contacted him on Facebook about selling a rare Confederate States of America note (currency that was used in the southern states during the American Civil War). It was estimated to be worth several thousand dollars.

“I made an agreement with the guy. I kind of felt him out. He said he wanted 10 grand. I said, ‘hey, I’ll give you $9,500 and we made a deal.’ I’ve done enough of these transactions, I know better than to pay upfront. He asked me how I propose doing the transaction. I said, ‘you overnight me the notes and as soon as I get it, I’ll send you a check.”

Ciociola said as soon as he received the package that contained the CSA note, it didn’t take long for him to discover that it was fake.

“As soon as I opened the package and looked at the note, I could tell it was counterfeit. There were so many things that were wrong about the note, you could definitely tell it was 100% not real. I’m probably one of the top ten Confederate note experts in the country, and I know what to look for when it comes to a real note and a fake one,” Ciociola stated.

Ciociola said he did not send the CSA note back to Tewell, but instead filed a police report with the Johnson County (North Carolina) Sheriff’s Department, and gave it to authorities there as evidence of fraud. As of Wednesday (3/22) Ciociola said he has not heard back from the Sheriff’s department since filing the report.

Ciociola claims that around the same time, a friend of his — Michael Andrews, owner of “Americana Currency” in Allenwood, New Jersey — contacted Ciociola about a CSA note that he received in the mail from a man in Missouri.

“My buddy, Mike Andrews had an agreement about purchasing a note. I get a call from him just days before I’m suppose to receive the package from Jeremy Tewell. So, Mike tells me on the phone that the note he received from this same guy, turned out to be counterfeit. I’m like, ‘oh, great.’ Fortunately, Mike didn’t pay the guy up front, and neither did I.”

However, there’s one person we found who did pay Tewell up front for what he thought were two rare, authentic Confederate States of America Bank notes — a $5 note and a $10 note. Marc Michaelsen, owner of “High Denomination” in St. Augustine, Florida said he was first contacted by Tewell earlier this year.

“In early January, a guy by the name of Jeremy Tewell from Carthage, Missouri, not only deceived me but defrauded me. The first e-mail I received from him said he wanted to sell a rare Confederate States of America Bank note,” said Michaelson who claimed that he purchased the note only after Tewell sent him images that showed they were genuine.

Confederate States of America bank notes. (Photo courtesy: Shutterstock)

To ensure authenticity, Michaelsen had Tewell send him photos of the bank notes. Once he received them, Michaelson forwarded those photos to a Confederate States of America (CSA) specialist, who said the notes were genuine, based on the images. After purchasing the first note, Michaelson claimed Tewell contacted him again in late January, offering to sell another Confederate note.

“After Jeremy sent me photos of this second note, I contacted a prominent CSA dealer who confirmed the note was genuine based on the images. It was only after I paid for and received the notes, that I would come to find out through expert examination of the currency, that both of them were high quality, modern counterfeits. What this guy’s doing is he’s presenting these notes, these CSA notes, as genuine. Because the counterfeits are of such high quality, they fooled me, and are fooling others as well.”

Michaelson says he was not only deceived, but defrauded by Tewell for a total of $7,850. In a written statement sent to the Carthage Police Department detailing the allegations, Michaelson stated, “Not only do I want to stop this individual from continuing to perpetrate this fraud against others, but I also want to press charges and pursue legal action against him. I currently am in possession of two counterfeit notes.”

We reached out to the Carthage Police Department and spoke with Police Chief, Bill Hawkins. Chief Hawkins said he has received information alleging Tewell’s fraudulent activities, and even sent police to his home, but were unable to make contact. According to Chief Hawkins, there are currently no charges filed against Tewell at this time, however the department is looking into the allegations.

(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

Counterfeit currency isn’t the only thing people are accusing Jeremy Tewell of selling. Jared Scott of Nashville, Tennessee, owns a business called “Properly Wound” — dealing and collecting high-value watches. Scott says he came forward on Instagram after reading other posts about Tewell’s alleged fraudulent sales. Scott claims he, too, is a victim of a deceitful transaction — a negotiation to try and purchase a Rolex watch Tewell was selling through a group on Facebook. The watch, Scott claims, he never received.

“It’s usually pretty easy to spot somebody who’s fishy. They’re going to have a Facebook profile that doesn’t look legit and is new, and they’re often evasive. Basically, watch dealers who’ve been in this business for a while can tell the guys who aren’t forthcoming. But everything I looked up on this guy, Jeremy, appeared to be authentic. So, we communicated back and forth and agreed on a price and some terms. It’s pretty common to buy a watch in advance. The watch was suppose to be an authentic Rolex. The deal we made was for me to pay half up front, and when the watch arrived from UPS, I would send the other half. Well, after I sent half the money, which totaled $3,250, that’s when the deal began to derail pretty quick.”

(Image courtesy: Jared Scott, “Properly Wound”)

Scott claims Tewell gave him several reasons for why he couldn’t get the watched shipped through by UPS for several days.

“I sent him a couple of messages saying, ‘Hey, I need that receipt.’ I finally got a message back from him pretty late that said, ‘I dropped it off and sent it to the address you gave me. You’ll have it a couple of days.’ Then I asked him what the tracking number was, and that’s when I stopped hearing from him. When I kept trying to message him on Facebook, he’s got me blocked. When I tried to text him, he’s got me blocked. So I’m like, ‘alright, I see what’s going on.”

(Image courtesy: Jared Scott, “Properly Wound”)

Scott said after Tewell stopped communicating, and that’s when he contacted law enforcement and filed a police report.

We reached out to Jeremy Tewell for comment on any of the allegations against him. After several attempts, we received the following response from Tewell though Facebook Messenger:

“I collected Civil War era banknotes and currency back in the mid-90s. I’ve not really added to my collection since then. In recent months I’ve been trying to sell some of my more valuable notes. For the past 15-20 years it’s been common for such notes to be professionally authenticated and graded by third-party graders (PCGS and PMG). My collection predates this. So when I approach a dealer or collector with a note I’d like to sell (and there have only been a few) I send them the best possible photos, and then send them the note Priority Mail Express for them to examine personally. I have not received any payment at this point. The recipient can either choose to buy the note or, if they have any reservations at all, they can send it back to me. That’s the understanding. However, last month I sent a rare Confederate note to a currency dealer in North Carolina. He not only kept the note without paying but started denouncing me as some sort of counterfeiter on Instagram. He still has this note and won’t respond to my messages. Again, he has not paid me a dime. In the meantime, his baseless claims have been picked up by a few of his connections in the coin and currency world–including the coin group over in Mindenmines, which you appear to have a relationship with. This is a private dispute. I have no desire to see it on the news. With all due respect, this would not be a potential story without your connection to this local group. You do not have permission to use any comments from me. I’m trying to retrieve what I know to be a valuable piece of history and I don’t what this to be a complication. And that’s all I have to say on the matter.”

-Jeremy Tewell

The alleged fraud victims we spoke with all say they are looking for the same thing: Justice.

“I’d like to know that the guy is put to justice and doesn’t get to harm anyone else. Fortunately, I wasn’t scammed out of any money, but other people haven’t been as lucky,” stated Brad Ciociola, owner of Carolina Rare Coins and Currency.