The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 22, Number 27, July 7, 2019, Article 28


Counterfeiting is an age-old problem, one that law enforcement combats constantly. I see dozens of media reports daily and few are notable enough to mention. Rare is the capture of a serious maker of high-quality counterfeits in quantity. Most incidents are run-of-the-mill poor homemade fake bills, or these days, fake "practice notes" or "movie money" bought online.

This Washington Post article discusses a recent incident at an elementary school. This case involved "play money" brought to school by one student that another student attempted to spend. -Editor

Play money $100 bill

The trouble started after one second-grader gave another some of the play money she had brought to her suburban Maryland school. The classmate tried to use it — a mock $100 bill — for lunch in the cafeteria, and before long, school security was involved. Then the Prince George's County police were called.

Then, the U.S. Secret Service.

"They treated it like a counterfeit scheme," said Tamara McKinney, grandmother of the girl, then 7 years old, who brought in the bills, which were realistic but clearly marked "fashion prop money," "copy money" and "the copy money shop of XDOWMO."

Attempting to pass fake notes is a crime, and we can't expect authorities to look the other way, even when the shover is a second grader. The incident has to be investigated, and no one in this case was sent to the slammer. But parents are understandably concerned about elevating schoolyard incidents to the level of a federal investigation. -Editor

In Maryland, police involvement at elementary schools has also become a flash point in Montgomery County, where an incident involving play money led to a call to law enforcement on May 14.

In that case, a 10-year-old with learning disabilities shared mock $100 bills with friends on his school bus, and later a bus driver found a stray bill. The driver told a supervisor, and police were summoned; the child was identified through a bus camera video recording, authorities say.

Soon, a county police officer was at the boy's elementary school, questioning him. The Secret Service — which deals with reports of counterfeit money — was notified.

"Outrageous," the boy's mother, Tiffany Kelly, wrote in an online petition, asking why a call was made to law enforcement, rather than "a call to mom."

School officials are working to improve their protocols. Should it matter how lifelike the copies are? I put "play money" in quotes because today's cheap, high quality printing technology makes even notes clearly labeled as "play money" or "copy money" awfully real-looking at first glance. These notes were bought online by the girl's older brothers. The school reported that a student attempted to spend "counterfeit" money. Should they call it "play money"? Should they call authorities at all? -Editor

In Prince George's County, school system officials said police got involved at Catherine T. Reed Elementary School in Lanham — where the second-graders had the play money — because of the way administrators reported the incident to school security offices: They called the money "counterfeit." Security personnel called police.

Jennifer Donelan, a county police spokeswoman, said police investigated and notified the Secret Service, as is protocol with possible counterfeit money. But the children were not arrested or questioned.

Perhaps some future researcher will compile a catalog of these things. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
The money was fake. The police were real. It happened in an elementary school. (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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