The five Liberian nationals promised a get rich scheme.
They represented bundles of paper as real us currency.
"What they tell the victim here is this black currency came from Africa, it's real U.S. currency dyed black to get through customs without any issue," Philadelphia Police Lieutenant Ray Evers said.
Two of the alleged con-artists approached Solomon Ghawi at his restaurant.
They needed cash to transform the dyed $100 bills back to normal U.S. currency.
"They said, 'We'll start small, 20,000, 30,000, until we get the 3-million," Ghawi said.
Evers says the con-artists would pull out two dark bills out, they'll ask the victim for a real $100 bill, and then place the three together.
The men put on an elaborate demonstration.
They placed the money in tin foil with a special liquid, rubbed it, and put it in water.
"And after the water is agitated, actual real money comes out; this actually shows the ruse that this is real U.S. currency,"
"It looks real, but it's too good to be true," Ghawi said.
So Ghawi didn't buy it and went to authorities.
A sting was set up at his Casablanca Moroccan restaurant in Overbrook.
Investigators say three of the defendants were actually in two separate vehicles doing counter surveillance when the bust went down, but police were on to them and arrested them without incident.
Police believe the five men may have successfully scammed at least two other business owners and credit Ghawi for bringing the alleged crime ring down.
"Most times we don't catch these individuals so this is an excellent opportunity to get this information out and get these people off the streets," Evers said.
"The whole thing didn't make sense, why aren't they using their money to bring this money back?" Ghawi said.