Prop money is used extensively while filming movies, shooting music videos, and for pulling fun tricks. These and other legit uses of prop money is the reason why its use is so common. However, because of how close it looks and feels to the real stuff, there have been several well documented cases of people misusing the prop money in situations that end up as epic fails.
The legal implications of misuse keeps everyone on their toes, the prop money companies, law enforcement, and even the legit end users. A classic case of something being created for legit purposes and then being misused with malicious intent. Here are some examples of prop money usage gone wrong.
Five Examples of How Prop Money is Being Misused
Of course the most common misuse of prop money is to use it like real money to make a purchase. Here are 5 cases where there is proof of what happens when someone designs prop money too well, or maybe...not so well.
1- Rush Hour 2
Rush Hour 2 is an action/comedy film released in 2001 that went on to become a box-office hit. Starring Christ Tucker and Jackie Chan, the movie had a scene that required money to be stacked on pallets. The producers bought millions of dollars in prop money to film the scene.
Unfortunately, the prop cash wasn't properly secured, and some of these bills started circulating in the local economy after some of the movie extras helped themselves to the prop money and tried to buy stuff with it.
It became a major issue and eventually the secret service stepped in and confiscated and destroyed all the counterfeit money from the filming company. They went one step further and confiscated the the digital files from the company that was making the prop money legally.
2- Deal Gone Wrong
Prop money isn’t used only for filming reasons these days. Sadly, it isn’t too difficult to get your hands on some realistic-looking fake money with ease. As long as you have access to the internet, you can get as much phony cash as you want.
Thanks to 3rd party sellers such as eBay and Amazon, just about anyone can obtain fake currency, and not always for the right reasons.
In August of 2016, in Athens, Georgia, a drug dealer was arrested for beating a man with a baseball bat after he tried to buy marijuana with two fake $100 bills. In this situation, illegal money was being used to buy an illegal substance. Thankfully, the criminals both got caught and paid the price for their crimes.
3- Walmart Scams
The illegal use of prop money is not limited to large criminal activities, but also in smaller ways like trying buy stuff at your local Walmart with prop money. The Georgia couple in the video below used $1,000 in prop money at a Walmart store to purchase goods.
However, the couple slipped up when they tried to return some stuff they bought with the prop money. The couple was trying get real money by returning the goods. In this case, the prop money had been illegally made and didn’t follow any government guidelines. The bill was a photocopy of a real $100 bill with “prop money” written discreetly on one side.
4- Scamming Machines
In January of 2019, in Michigan City, Michigan, a male and female were caught feeding fake hundred-dollar bills into the self-checkout line to purchase goods at a local Meijer. Their scam was to buy a low-cost item with a fake $100 bill to receive the change back in real currency.
The couple was able to do this with multiple fake bills getting free merchandise and real cashback from every transaction.
That gives every store out there another reason to be wary and another problem to watch out for. It’s a perfect example of how technology can be extremely helpful in one way and a terrible hindrance in another.
Most of these internet shoppers will use fake online accounts and aliases to disguise their true identities. Not only while trying to use it illegally but also while buying prop money. Thus, making it nearly impossible to track them down.
5- Market Place Scams
The Martinsville, Louisiana police put out an alert in January 2020, for people to beware of online sellers wanting face-to-face transactions in cash. Prop money was being illegally used to purchase big-ticket items off online sale sites.
These people would contact a seller and set up a meeting place. They would then quickly do their transaction, handing over crumpled or folded bills and leave. Only after the transaction was completed would the seller realize the cash had things like “in props, we trust” written on the bills.
Most of these internet shoppers will use fake online accounts and aliases to disguise their true identities. Thus, making it nearly impossible to track them down.
Using Prop Money as Real Currency is Illegal
Prop money is created for entertainment plan on using it that way. Using prop cash as real money is a criminal activity, you will get caught, prosecuted, and most likely jailed. Don't give into the temptation, it's not worth it.
The use of prop money as real money is a serious offence and all parties involved the police, the company that made the prop money will cooperate to find the offender.
Legally made and good quality prop money is a great asset to film makers and the entertainment industry. It can help boost the appearance of a scene giving it a realistic look and feel. However, in the wrong hands, prop money can cause significant problems and be used to con and deceive innocent people. Sadly, these are real stories regarding prop money fails.