CHICAGO (CBS) — A suburban counterfeiting operation has been broken up.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports, federal prosecutors say Ahmad J. Warnell, of Flossmoor, is accused of churning out phony $20 and $50 bills, which were used to buy nearly $20,000 worth of Apple iPads, iPods, Sony cameras and other goods during 13 visits to suburban Target stores across the Chicago area, from Naperville to Tinley Park.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports

The U.S. Secret Service began investigating after a Target employee alerted the organization that two women had been passing fake bills at several locations.

The women were taken into custody, and led investigators to a go-between who was giving them the money, then returning the items in exchange for refunds.

The go-between, in turn, revealed the identity of the man who allegedly provided the fake bills. That man was Eugene Jackson, who was rrested Friday after authorities allegedly saw him take $800 in cash from the go-between and provide him $8,000 in fake bills in return, during a pre-arranged meeting under surveillance at Pete’s Farmer’s Market in south suburban Calumet City, the affidavit says. He initially denied taking the $800, but authorities later found it inside a body cavity.

He led investigators to Warnell, who was arrested at his Flossmoor home and allegedly found in a car with $900 worth of counterfeit cash. A federal search warrant later turned up uncut sheets of suspected counterfeit bills and money-making equipment from his home, the affidavit claims.

The filing did not say whether authorities had charged Jackson — the man Warnell claims gave him the equipment and taught him how to use it, according to the documents. Warnell remains in federal custody.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)