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Backyard Treasure Hoax Makes Headlines

  • Brian Purchia

Two friends recently made international headlines when they said they found buried treasure in a Massachusetts backyard. The money is valued at more than a $100,000. The story sounded too good to be true, as it turns out it was. The two men were arrested by Massachusetts police for receiving stolen property.

Barry Billcliff and Tim Crebase said they found the crate full of old United States bills while working in Tim's backyard.

Tim Crebase says, "I was digging up the tree, and all of the sudden, I saw the money and I was just, like, besides myself. I just started jumping around, I was all excited."

"I look at the can and I look inside and I can see it's full of dollar bills," explains Barry Billcliff.

"Just pulling out roll after roll after roll after roll of money," adds Tim.

"Finding rare notes like the Bison $10 bills and gold certificates and silver certificates," says Barry.

The face value of the cash is only $7,000. But, the bills date from 1891 to 1928, so the two men brought them to a coin expert, Don Mangano. He said it was worth about $100,000.

"You're looking at the notes and your saying, 'No this can't be. This can't be. Not all at once,' " explains Don Mangano.

The police chief of Methuen, Massachusetts Joseph Solomon, says the authorities might never have suspected anything had the men not sought publicity.

"Had they just put the money away or, you know, gone somewhere outside of the area and sold a little money at a time, I don't think anybody would have known or suspected anything. Sometimes wanting to be famous is really the downfall of people,” says Chief Solomon.

Police noticed that the details of the two men's stories changed with each appearance on television.

The two friends were arrested for receiving stolen property, conspiracy and accessory after the fact. Mr. Billcliff denied the charges saying, "Oh, we didn't. Wait till everything's said and done. This is a stupid misunderstanding. We'll get to the bottom of it. You'll find out."

But, police chief Solomon says Mr. Crebase confessed that their story was a hoax. "[It] Appeared to have been the American dream and then it turns out now it was a fraud," says the Chief.

The police chief says the two men found the money in the gutter of a barn they were hired to repair and they "cooked up a scheme" to make the find look legitimate so they could keep the cash.

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