PORTLAND, Maine — A Westbrook man and woman were arrested Thursday and charged in U.S. District Court in connection with a scheme to pass counterfeit $100 bills in the Maine Mall area in South Portland.

Jamal Bradberry, 35, and Brittany Wildes, 23, are charged with conspiracy to pass counterfeited obligations of the United States.

Since October, nearly $30,000 in counterfeit money believed to come from the same source has been passed in and around the state of Maine, the complaint said. So far, not all of it has been linked to Bradberry and Wildes.

The duo made their first court appearances Friday in federal court in Portland but did not enter pleas. Wildes was released on personal recognizance bail. Bradberry, who is wanted on a warrant out of New York state, is being held without bail at the Cumberland County Jail.

The two allegedly would purchase merchandise with the counterfeit money, then return it the next day and receive real bills in payment.

The investigation into the fake $100 bills began in November when the Sears store at the Maine Mall reported that a total of $2,100 in counterfeit notes had been used to pay for a snowblower on Nov. 20, according to court documents. The next day, the woman who purchased the snowblower returned it for a cash refund.

From November to mid-January, the pair allegedly executed similar purchases and returns at Target, Bed, Bath and Beyond, J.C. Penney, Olympia Sports and Footlocker and other stores in South Portland.

After tracing the bills to Wilde and Bradberry, police searched Wildes’ apartment and vehicle on Jan. 14, according to court documents. Items seized included 63 counterfeit $100 bills, $9,300 in genuine currency and items allegedly purchased with the fake money.