Employee accused of swapping movie money for real cash

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A Deltona Walmart employee was arrested on Monday night, after other employees noticed something funny about a $10,000 bundle of cash in the store’s safe.

On closer inspection: $7,600 in bills from the middle of the pack of $100 notes were counterfeit.   It was a blue hue that gave some fake bills away, authorities said.  They weren’t just bluish. They had a different thickness, texture and were printed with the words “FOR MOTION PICTURE USE ONLY.”  

A Walmart cash office associate first noticed the fake money on Sunday and alerted a manager. After inspecting the bills and counting 76 counterfeit ones, the manager wrapped the bundle in a white paper marked “DO NOT USE” and locked it back in the safe.

On Monday, when a loss prevention officer went back to the safe to inspect the counterfeit money, the bundle was still there – but the fake bills were missing. He went to review surveillance video and noticed that, just after 6 a.m. on Monday, employee Xiomara Matias-Cruz went into the cash office to count and verify the money in the safe, which she did at the start of every shift.

Authorities said Matias-Cruz seemed to be looking for something specific. Then she found the white “DO NOT USE” package, opened it, made a phone call and appeared to take something from the bundle. She left the building, got in her vehicle and drove away – only 15 minutes after her shift started.

On further review of surveillance footage, the loss prevention officer discovered a video from early Friday morning, showing Matias-Cruz opening the same safe, fumbling with something and reaching in her pockets. She was also holding unbundled cash in her hand.

On Monday evening, a deputy contacted Matias-Cruz at her home in Deltona and arrested her on charges of grand theft and obtaining property by fraud.