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Prop Money Fails! When Movie Money is Used Incorrectly

by Brian C. Christy
Prop Money Fails! When Movie Money is Used Incorrectly

Prop money is great for creating movies, shooting music videos, and even pulling pranks. However, there are situations when prop money isn’t so fun. There have been many situations where prop money has been used incorrectly or even illegally, keeping law enforcement, prop money companies, and even filmmakers on their toes.

Just because someone created something with good intentions doesn’t mean it will never be used for malicious intent or misused altogether. Here are some examples of prop money gone wrong.

Five Examples of How Prop Money is Being Misused

Prop money can be misused, mishandled, and misinterpreted in many types of situations. Whether intentional or not, prop money fails; tends to happen. Here are 5 cases where there is proof of what happens when someone designs prop money too well, or well...not too well.

1- Rush Hour 2

Rush Hour 2 was a hit action/comedy film released in 2001, starring actors Christ Tucker and Jackie Chan. In this movie, the company who created the prop money, Independent Studio Services, sold the production company millions of fake bills stacked up on pallets for the film.

Unfortunately, some of these bills started to circulate through the local economy after some of their movie extras had been caught taking the fake bills and passing them off as real money at local stores. Thus, the secret service confiscated and destroyed all the counterfeit money from the company, including the digital files that held the designs. They did this because they found that the phony money resembled the real currency way too much.

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

Not only is prop money being illegally used in criminal activities but also in popular chain department stores. In this Instants, also in 2016, a couple used $1000 in prop money at a Walmart store to purchase goods.

The couple slipped up when trying to return an item purchased with the prop money. The male and female were attempting to receive authentic cash back. 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.

5- Market Place Scams

In Martinsville, Louisianan, in January 2020, police put out an alert for online sellers to be wary of face-to-face transactions involving cash exchange. 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.

The Wolf Of Wall Street

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

As you can see in our examples, there are many ways somebody can use prop money to con innocent people and businesses creating chaos for everyone involved. Using fake cash is a severe offense, and the penalty can be spending a fair amount of time in jail and paying far more real money in fines than used in prop money.

Even though the Secret Service has been cracking down on counterfeit cash and the misuse of prop money, it is still a huge problem in our society today. With the fantastic world wide web, getting your hands on just about anything is easier than ever. Due to technology taking over the cashier and bank teller’s jobs, prop money is getting easier to pass through into the economy.

Our Conclusion

Correctly made prop money is a great product to own for every filmmaker in the 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.


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