Fake denominations of United States currency
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Fake denominations of United States currency have been created by individuals as practical joke or to make a statement and do not assert that they are legal tender. The Federal Reserve declares them legal to print as long as they are not presented as genuine currency.
Legitimate three-dollar bills were also produced by various banks in the early days of the United States and by the Confederacy.3 Before the creation of the Federal Reserve System, individual banks offered their own currencies.4
Various fake $3 bills have been released over time, generally poking fun at politicians or celebrities such as Richard Nixon, Michael Jackson, George W. Bush, both Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama in reference to the idiomatic expression "queer as a three-dollar bill" or "phony as a three-dollar bill". In the 1960s, Mad printed a $3 bill that featured a portrait of Alfred E. Neuman and read: "This is not legal tender—nor will tenderizer help it." Mad writer Frank Jacobs said that the magazine ran afoul of the US Secret Service because the $3 bill was accepted by change machines at Boise, Idaho, casinos.5 In the first decade of the 21st century, homosexual rights organizations encouraged supporters to print obviously-fake $3 bills, called "Queer Dollars", and place the fake bills in Salvation Army donation buckets as a protest against that organization's policy towards homosexual rights.67
Monopoly Junior includes $3 and $4 denominated Monopoly money in addition to $1, $2 and $5 notes. Like the $3 bill, the United States has never issued a $4 note but briefly issued a $4 goloid (an alloy of gold, silver, and copper) coin known as the "stella" in 1879.
In 2001, a local man purchased $99 worth of merchandise in Greensburg, Pennsylvania at a Fashion Bug store with a $200 bill featuring then-President George W. Bush on the front. The back featured an image of the White House with signs in the front lawn, bearing phrases such as "WE LIKE BROCCOLI" and "USA DESERVES A TAX CUT." The local man was later charged with forgery, theft by deception and receiving stolen property.8 A man in Danville, Kentucky passed a similar counterfeit bill at a local Dairy Queen, receiving $198 in real change.8
The United States has never issued a million dollar bill.9 However, many businesses print million dollar bills for sale as novelties. Such bills do not assert that they are legal tender. The Federal Reserve has declared them legal to print or own and does not consider them counterfeit because no genuine million dollar bill exists or ever has existed. At least one vendor printed the bills using the same intaglio printing process and cotton rag stock as actual currency, using the American Bank Note Company as their printing contractor.citation needed
In March 2004, Alice Regina Pike attempted to use a novelty $1,000,000 bill with a picture of the Statue of Liberty on the front to purchase $1671.55 in goods from a Wal-Mart in Covington, Georgia, and then she asked for change. She was arrested on a charge of forgery.910
In October 2007, Samuel Porter tried to get change for a million dollar bill at a Giant Eagle store in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The store manager confiscated the bogus bill and Mr. Porter flew into a rage. He slammed an electronic funds-transfer machine into the cashier's counter and reached for a scanner gun at the store. He was later arrested and charged for forgery and he served time at the Allegheny County Jail. The US Secret Service was also investigating this case.11
In November 2007, Alexander D. Smith tried to open a bank account in Aiken County, South Carolina, by depositing a $1,000,000 bill. The bank employee refused to deposit the bill and called the police. Smith was immediately arrested on a charge of forgery.12
In December 2011, Michael Anthony Fuller attempted to buy a vacuum cleaner, a microwave oven and other merchandise totaling $476 from a Wal-Mart in Lexington, North Carolina with a $1 million bill.13 Court records show that Fuller was later charged with attempting to obtain property by false pretense and uttering a forged instrument, both felonies.
Christian evangelist Ray Comfort's ministry, Living Waters Publications, produces a fake $1,000,000 bill – resembling an amalgam of the series 1996 $100 bill and the series 2004 $10 bill, and featuring Rutherford B. Hayes – which is in reality a Christian gospel tract, with the gospel message printed on the reverse. They have printed other designs in the past, including one featuring Grover Cleveland, based on the series 2004 $20 bill. All versions have included one or more URLs to the ministry's websites and the statement "This is NOT legal tender for all debts, public and private." After someone attempted to deposit one of the fake bills in North Carolina, the Secret Service raided The Great News Network, a sister ministry to LWP based in Denton, Texas, on June 2, 2006. The Secret Service told workers at GNN they would locate and seize all of the million dollar bills at LWP's Bellflower, California, headquarters. Comfort has been advised by his lawyers to refuse such an action, and no warrants yet appear to have been issued for the tracts.citation needed However, in a precautionary move, LWP also temporarily produced an enlarged "Secret Service version".citation needed
In March 2006, agents from ICE and the Secret Service seized 250 notes, each bearing a denomination of $1,000,000,000 (one billion dollars) from a West Hollywood apartment.15 The suspect had previously been arrested on federal charges for attempting to smuggle more than $37,000 in currency into the U.S. following a trip to South Korea in 2002.
A fictional one trillion (10004) dollar bill forms the basis of the plot of the The Simpsons episode "The Trouble with Trillions". It features a portrait of Harry Truman giving a thumbs-up with one hand and the a-ok sign with the other. This fake trillion dollar bill can also be found in numerous Kip Kay videos on YouTube such as "Booby Trapped Briefcase".
- Educational Technological clearinghouse--Paper Money, Three Dollar Bill, 1780
- United Colonies Currency - Three Dollar Bill - Awesome Stories
- Common Place vol. 4 no. 4, Stephen Mihm. http://www.common-place.org/vol-04/no-04/mihm/2.shtml
- The MAD World of William M. Gaines, by Frank Jacobs, 1972; Lyle Stuart
- George Ochoa and Melinda Corey (2005), The 100 Best Trends: Emerging Developments You Can't Afford to Ignore, F+W Media, Inc. Page 105.
- Protest Salvation Army's Discrimination Against Gays With Queer Dollars, website accessed September 12, 2011
- "In Anything We Trust". MSNBC. 2004-09-01. Archived from the original on 2004-09-02. Retrieved 2009-01-30.
- Woman says she thought $1 million bill was real, AP, via MSNBC.com, March 11, 2004.
- "Got Change For A Million?". The Smoking Gun. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
- "Man Jailed After Trying To Pass $1 Million Bill At Pittsburgh Giant Eagle". WTAE-TV. Retrieved 9 October 2007.
- "Fake Million Dollar Bill Lands Man in Jail". NBC. 2004-09-01. Archived from the original on 2008-06-23. Retrieved 2011-01-29.
- John Hinton (December 31, 2011), "Lexington man charged with making a fake $1 million bill and trying to spend it", Winston-Salem Journal
- Kencana, Dhana (31 July 2013). "Can't Fake It". The Jakarta Globe. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
- Homeland Security Agents Seize "Billion Dollar" Bogus Federal Reserve Notes