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“Prop” money import is a federal crime

On Behalf of | Dec 2, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

When characters in a TV show or movie exchange money, the realism of the scene may lose its effect for some viewers if the money looks fake. For this reason, many Florida stage and film productions use prop money, which is fake money designed to look just like real bills. However, importing fake money, even for use as props, is a federal crime that carries high penalties.

Prop money typically has the words “prop bills” printed on them in some indiscreet place, and those words may be the only thing that distinguishes it from real currency. Because they are so realistic, it is often easy for retail workers and others to accept the bills as payment without realizing they are fake. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, concerned about the damage counterfeit money can do to the U.S. economy, are always on the lookout for packages that may contain prop bills.

CBP intercept shipment

Recently, agents in another state confiscated over $1 million in prop bills in a shipment that originated in Ukraine and was destined for a local business address. They say this is the second such shipment from Ukraine to the same business, each containing stacks of $100 prop bills. Agents say that, although each bill has the mark of a prop, the letters are easy to wash off, leaving a $100 bill that resembles real money enough to put into circulation.

Agents reportedly have no indication that the business the shipment was headed to had any illegal intentions for the fake money. Nevertheless, importing any fake U.S. currency is a federal crime. Those in Florida facing charges of violating that law would do well to seek legal counsel in light of the potentially severe penalties for a conviction.