Reuters – March 14, 2006:

The counterfeit money looked good, but there was one flaw. There’s no such thing as a $1 billion bill.

U.S. Customs agents in California said Tuesday they had found 250 bogus billion-dollar bills while investigating a man charged with currency smuggling.

“You would think the $1 billion denomination would be a giveaway that these notes are fake, but some people are still taken in,” said James Todak, a secret services agent involved in the probe.

Exactly how could someone be “taken” by this? Who carries around change for a billion dollars?

  1. gquaglia says:

    The same morons that fall for the Nigerian, I need help accessing my millions, scam…

  2. Wayne Bradney says:

    Ah I thought so.

    So, the man was NOT actually arrested for possessing 250 fake billion-dollar bills, but for other, real offences.

    I couldn’t see how conterfeiting a denomination that doesn’t exist and is not legal tender can be an arrestable offence. That’s like being arrested for copying Monopoly money.

  3. gquaglia says:

    Yeah, Wayne, read the article. There is also a thing called intent, what was his intent for the fakes. He also pled guilty, which leads me to believe he was so.

  4. Dave Drews says:

    “Who carries around change for a billion dollars?”

    Jack Abramoff?

  5. Alex says:

    Ok, so even if I find the most gullible moron in the world, how do I pass a billion dollar bill? Many places don’t accept bills beyond $20. I just don’t see how the secret service thinks this would work. So I go to Starbucks, order a venti double mocca, triple expresso, low-fat macchiato and I pay with a billion dollar bill. Don’t you think even the dimmest barista would have some pause about giving me back some $999.999.995.74 in change? You don’t think he may at least say that he doesn’t have change? Do you have a smaller bill? I can break a million.

    Gimme a break!

  6. Paul says:

    Gee most places I shop at have signs right above the register: “We do not have change for anything larger than a million.” I hate it when I have to run out and find an ATM.

  7. RonD says:

    Webster definition of counterfeit: “Made in imitation of what is genuine with the intent to defraud: a counterfeit dollar bill.”

    I don’t think the billion dollar bills are counterfeit because there are no genuine billion dollar bills. If he tried to use them as currency he would be guilty of fraud, but not counterfeiting. Same would be true of $3 bills mentioned in an earlier comment.

  8. RonD says:

    Maybe I don’t get it. $2 bills with a wrong year on them would be counterfeit because there are $2 bills in circulation. I think you can still get them at the bank. So the phony $2 bill is an imitation of a real $2 bill. But there are no real billion dollar bills. I agree that in both cases one would be in trouble if trying to use them as money.

    P.S. I don’t think of Webster as a “hack”. 🙂

  9. gquaglia says:

    Your right RonD, you don’t get it.

  10. Some of you have no imagination. Who needs change from them. Sell them at a fraction of their face value as “collectable”… mistakes produced by the mint in limited quality, blah blah blah. The pure novelty of such a high denomination would make it a selling feature, and psychologically seem like a steal considering the face value.

    You could probably bilk suckers for $500,000 at the end of the day and since they would never really enter circulation – with very little risk. By the time one did happen to end up in the hands of an educated collector you would be long gone.

  11. BL says:

    Steve, I suppose you use Liberty Dollars…

  12. Mr. Fusion says:


    So, just to clarify…

    That roll of toilet paper printed looking like $10 bills using His Royal Highness, King George the Worst’s likeness are actually counterfeit? Would his highness be in trouble?

    How about if it was used as intended, would it be counterfeit then?

  13. joshua says:

    damn Steve…..I have to get my Granny a lawyer…..she has some of those real dollar bills with famous peoples faces printed on them (Rush, Hillary, Bill, Bill Gates etc)……they are real, except the pics are altered….so is that conterfiet?

  14. RonD says:

    “Would a 20 dollar bill featuring Bill Clinton’s picture be an imitation of money? Sure, so that could be considered counterfeit too.”

    Ah! Key phrase “imitation of money.” I agree that the phony billion dollar bill is an imitation of money, (especially if it has the phrase about being legal tender for all debt public and private), and therefore can be considered counterfeit. Thanks Steve for shedding additional light on the subject.

  15. Mr. Fusion says:


    Thanks for the clarification. I would really hate it if I knew King George was going down the toilet twice. Once with crap on his head and the second with well, crap on his head.

  16. tgladieux says:

    “…..I have to get my Granny a lawyer…..she has some of those real dollar bills with famous peoples faces printed on them (Rush, Hillary, Bill, Bill Gates etc)……they are real, except the pics are altered….so is that conterfiet?”

    Do you mean that your Granny has real US dollar bills printed by the US Department of Printing and Engraving which have had the original picture replaced with pictures of Rush, Hillary, Bill, Bill Gates, etc?

    I am not a lawyer like Steve so I may be wrong. Maybe Steve can clarify this also. But, my understanding is that modifying US many, coins or bills, in ANY way is a completely different crime. It is defacement of government property. When you have a $20 bill in your possession and you say that you own $20, technically you only own the buying power of $20. Uncle Sam still owns the bill itself. And my understanding is that it is a crime to alter any of Uncle’s property.

    Am I wrong Steve?

  17. RonD says:

    Also check this out concerning bills with famous people on them:

    “Currency notes upon which the portraits of well-known personalities (such as Santa Claus and movie stars) are temporarily affixed, are for the most part found to be genuine United States currency”

  18. Funkyfoxz says:

    I would like to read about the stupid bank clerk that would cash the note! Or maybe the service station clerk that say “Sorry mate I don’t have enough change to change the bill, I just look in the other tilt see if I can change it then!”


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