Counterfeit Reality is the seventh episode of the first season, and the seventh episode overall. It was released on March 11 2005.
When FBI agent Don Eppes finds several murders are linked to counterfeiting, his mathematical genius brother Charlie uses his skills to do what other investigating methods - as used by Agent Kim Hall, Don's colleague and his ex from his Albuquerque days, a blank chapter in his past for Charlie - failed to, locate the forging and identify who did the graphical artwork required for these old-fashioned, relatively hard to detect fakes with real printing presses and watermark, not computer printing: it's a missing artist, who must have been kidnapped and will probably be murdered as a liability for the counterfeiters...
Various CCTV footage is seen showing armed robberies.
Don and Terry meet with Detective Reynolds of the LAPD at the last robbery site. Don is unsure as to why they were called. Reynolds wants help with cleaning up the CCTV footage to try and get better footage of the suspects. Charlie has been working on this type of program and they would like to use it.
Amita and Charlie show off the new tech on the footage. The equipment and visible belongings of the robbers are expensive and the FBI and LAPD are unsure as to why they would only grab $1,100 from the store when the value of the rest of the items is much more. They are clearly professional criminals though based on tactics and how they carry themselves. Reynolds gets a call - there have been two teenage boys were killed with the same type of weapon that they just identified. The murders are linked to the earlier robberies through the stores they hit. The murdered boys had been shopping that morning, they were all cash transactions. One of the boys owed their mother money and paid her back the night before. She directs them to his work.
Don, David, and Reynolds go to the warehouse that he worked out of. One of the tenants left the night before. They check out the space and find remnants of ink and paper. They call in the Secret Service. Agent Kim Hall is sent and she identifies the bills taken from the mother of the dead teens as well-made counterfeits who work with 'old school' techniques. The Secret Service have been tracking the crew for five years. She wants to split the two crimes up to investigate, but Charlie suggests otherwise. Hall is annoyed and talks to Don privately, they have some history. Terry suggests they check out known counterfeiters as Don leaves for the day.
At the Eppes' house Charlie is studying the fake currency. Don comes in looking for a box from when he moved back from Albuquerque. Alan arrives home with groceries and is dismayed to see that the living room has been taken over. Charlie starts to focus on the artist of the counterfeit, using two people running on the beach where a second person tries to follow the first's footstep exactly to describe how differences between originals and forgeries are made.
David pinpoints eight forgers that could do the work to the necessary degree of accuracy. They also find out about a kidnapping from three weeks earlier where similar weapons to the ones the robbers used had been used. It was a local artist by the name of Margo Hughes. They talk to her husband who is a potential suspect. They compare Margo's artwork to the forgeries and they are a near enough match to be done by the same person.
The FBI and Secret Service start to get information on where the counterfeit bills are being spent to try to figure out where the robbers/counterfeiters are. Kim doesn't understand what they're doing. Charlie throws some paperclips on the floor to illustrate how they can use the bills to find the suspects. She reveals that she and Don used to live together in Albuquerque.
Terry and David go to talk to counterfeiters. They meet with former counterfeiter, Eddie. He directs them to a different counterfeiter to look into.
Charlie confronts Don about his past with Kim. She comes up with information on the fake money that could blow the case open. Don and Kim follow up on the lead while Charlie goes home to snoop in the basement through Don's old things. Alan recognises a photo of Don and Kim together and Charlie is a little distressed at this. Don and Kim find another potential suspect.
Terry and David check into the other counterfeiter when they are ambushed by a drive-by and the counterfeiter is killed. Having survived the drive-by they talk to Kevin, the other suspect. He doesn't give up information on who they are. Don talks to Jordan Hughes. Charlie also talks to him as he leaves the FBI building. Jordan is surprised to find that he noticed that Margo would write his name in all of her pieces. It was her way of reaching out to him through her work.
Amita stops by the Eppes' house to see how the case is going. With her help, Charlie finds Margo's hidden message, but is unable to crack it. It's not a code, but the address of a warehouse connected to Eddie. Terry and David confront him. Eddie and his sons have been making the counterfeit bills and the younger men were the ones to kidnap Margo as well as kill and rob the people over the past few days. Eddie gives them the information they need to rescue Margo and take them down.
Margo and Jordan are reunited. Don and Kim have a short heart-to-heart before she leaves. Don goes home. Charlie arrives at 2am with the box that Don was looking for. In the box is an envelope with an engagement ring in it.
This refers to the layers, levels, and plausibility of the con, as well as the simple issue of credible but fake money.
- Don's apartment is shown for the first time.
- When Charlie holds up the two photos of Kim and Don, the one in front in the wide shot (where Don is hugging her) is different that the one in front in the close-up (with Don raising his arms with her on his shoulders).
[This appears on the beginning of the episode] 6 Robberies, 3 Murders, 1,230 Dollars, 1 Artist