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BBB Scam Alert: Louisiana employees duped by "prop money"

Photo courtesy of MGN Online

A local BBB Accredited Business reached out to BBB Serving Acadiana asking us to help warn other retail businesses and consumers about the circulation of “Movie Money” or “Prop Money”.

Posted: Jul 14, 2021 12:54 PM

Lafayette, LA - A local BBB Accredited Business reached out to BBB Serving Acadiana asking us to help warn other retail businesses and consumers about the circulation of “Movie Money” or “Prop Money”. This money is specifically designed for the film and promotion industries for use in films, music videos, production promotions.

According to the business, the payment for products purchased were a few twenty dollar bills. The business provided photo documentation. At first glance they really appear to be real. Upon further inspection, the twenty clearly states “copy money” in multiple places, however, most of the wording is in the same typography and a similar color to regular currency. This makes it easy to miss especially, if you are a busy establishment. The business stated that although they have counterfeit detector pens they typically only use this on one hundred and fifty dollar bills.

How easy is it to get prop money?

A quick search on the internet and you will find a plethora of companies that produce and sell this product.

How do these companies get to produce this product?

Prop money makers manufacturer money according to the government’s guidelines to keep themselves and their customers out of trouble. 18 U.S.C. § 504(1), 31 CFR § 411.1.

Is it illegal to own prop money?

Short answer, No. Although, the U.S. Secret Service warns anyone in possession of movie or prop money should forfeit the fake bills to law enforcement. Anyone attempting to spend this fake currency for goods and services will be subject to fines and/or imprisonment (18 U.S.C. § 472).

BBB and the U.S. Secret Service offers these tips to help protect you from becoming a victim:

Take a quick glance at currency when you receive it from any consumer or retail establishment.
Check all currency using a counterfeit detector pen.
Look for Chinese Characters or foreign writing on the front and back of the note.
Look for “For Motion Picture Use Only” or the words “Replica” or “Copy Money” listed on the note.
Contact your local law enforcement or local Secret Service Field Office if you have information about counterfeit currency.

For more information:

Visit uscurrency.gov for more information and training resources on validating current and older U.S. currency.

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