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Online Retailers Like Ebay, Amazon Stock Movie Money As Gag Gift Or Other Innocent Reason But New Secret Service Warning Details 25% Surge In The Counterfeit Currency Being Used In Marketplace, Duping Everyone

Schumer Says Internet Retailers Are Unknowingly Making It Easy To Traffic Fake Cash By Selling It; Wants Internet Association, Which Reps Online Retailers, To Partner With Secret Service On Plan To Curb Nefarious Sales  

Schumer: It Shouldn’t Be A ‘Mission Impossible’ To Tackle ‘Movie Money’ Being Passed Off As The Real Thing This Holiday Season       

Amid a new warning about fake cash used in Hollywood movies flooding the real world, and a just-publicized U.S. Secret Service campaign to combat the surge this holiday season, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, today, urged the Internet Association to partner with the U.S. Secret Service to curb the uptick of counterfeit cash and catch any culprit(s). Schumer detailed where this ‘movie money’ is available online, how life-like it looks and why it is becoming a major problem for New York retailers and consumers who get left holding the bag. Schumer made the case for a joint plan between online sellers and the feds that heads off the counterfeit cash at the pass, saying a ‘warning’ is just not enough to combat the problem.   

“The U.S. Secret Service is doing a fine job publicizing the recent surge in fake cash, via ‘movie money,’ flooding retailers and some wallets this holiday season, but it shouldn’t be a ‘Mission Impossible’ to prevent these faux funds from being passed off as the real thing in the first place,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “That’s why I am asking the Internet Association which represents online sellers stocking this product, like eBay and Amazon, to get a handle on the funny money. When it ends up in a retailer’s register or a consumer’s pocket it is nothing to laugh about.”  

According to the U.S. Secret Service, prop money is the most popular type of counterfeit money because people don’t have to do much to acquire it. For most people looking to dupe businesses and inject the fake funds into the marketplace all that is required is an internet connection. From there, scammers primarily search eBay and Amazon for the motion picture cash, where hundreds of ‘dollars’ is available for around twenty-dollars in real money.  Based on a recent 25% surge in fake cash flooding businesses this holiday season, the Secret Service has issued a nationwide alert to keep an eye out for the counterfeit bills. The feds launched “Operation Quick Glance.”

According to the Secret Service, last year, $103.4 million in counterfeit cash was passed in the U.S. There was an increase in the passing of notes with other foreign writing and the aforementioned 25% increase in the passing of motion picture notes, both kinds of cash are available online for immediate purchase.

The Secret Service publicized tips to help business and consumers identify the counterfeit currency:

  • Take a quick glance at cash when you receive it from any retail establishment or individual.
  • Look for foreign writing on the front and back of the note.
  • Look for the words “For Motion Picture Use Only” or “Replica” written on the note.

In addition, images of what to look for on money  can also help consumers.

But Schumer, today, said this simple warning to the public is not enough to get a handle on the problem. He urged the Internet Association to partner with the Secret Service this holiday season and beyond to curtail the online sale of this funny money at its source—the online retail market.

Schumer’s letter to Michael Beckerman, the President of the national Internet Association, which reps eBay and Amazon, appears below.   

Michael Beckerman, Internet Association President

660 North Capitol St.

Washington, DC 20001

Dear Mr. Beckerman:

I write today on the heels of a new U.S. Secret Service warning to consumers and retailers concerning counterfeit money and a new awareness campaign dubbed “Operation Second Glance.” The new warning and the just-announced campaign were publicized as part of a surge in counterfeit cash flooding U.S. retailers, tricking businesses and unsuspecting consumers.

There are two main reasons for the recent counterfeit cash surge. The first concerns “motion picture money,” fake currency that looks real from a distance which is typically used by Hollywood studios. According to the Secret Service, millions of dollars of ‘movie money’ is now showing up at cash registers across the country. Last year the Secret Service reported a 25% increase in the passing of motion picture notes. Secondly, money labeled with foreign language characters is also on the rise and available online.

Online retailers—some of your members—play a role in innocently transacting the sale of this movie money. In fact, a cursory internet search for the item shows how easy it is to buy prop money on the internet, as some online retailers are stocking the product for use as gag gifts, bank teller training and other benign scenarios.

However, the surge in illicit use of movie money and its easy online access demands your Association partner with the U.S. Secret Service on a plan to curb the latest trends in counterfeit cash purchases online. Unknowingly, some of your members are making it easy to buy counterfeit currency. Without proper safeguards, such access to this currency could foster a rich medium for unscrupulous actors to dupe both retailers and consumers once the cash is shipped and introduced into the marketplace. A strong partnership between your Association and the Secret Service might lead to better vetting controls, a more secure supply chain, or the identification of a potentially nefarious repeat purchaser.

The U.S. Secret Service can only do so much to warn consumers, but your Association has the ability to help enact new controls and best practices for the sale of this product. I encourage you to work hand-in-glove with the federal government to protect America’s brick and mortar businesses—small and large—as well as the consumers who might be left pocketing the worthless paper.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions about the rise in faux money available online now being used as counterfeit cash in stores. I thank you for your anticipated cooperation.


U.S. Senator Charles Schumer