Police Warn of Fraudsters Buying with ‘Motion Picture Money’

(File photograph)

Detective Lt. Robert P. Pistone.

Widely distributed counterfeit money is increasingly showing up in local wallets and cash registers, police say.

“Motion picture money,” as it is called, is claiming victims among local residents and businesses as one Haverhill family discovered earlier this month. In that case, a victim received a small amount of fake bills in exchange for some goods.

“It’s under investigation, but Haverhill Police are fairly certain that we will be able to resolve that case successfully,” said Detective Lt. Robert P. Pistone, police spokesman. He added, “It’s money that they use in the movies—prop money. You can a buy duffle bag full for a couple of hundred bucks.”

Also called “play money,” stacks of U.S. currency can easily be purchased online for as little as $6.95 for $10,000 worth—or 100, $100 bills. One merchant describes the fake money as the “best and most realistic quality for on camera use, training or novelty.”

While at least some bills sold online feature the words, “’FOR MOTION PICTURE USE ONLY,” the typeface and format blend in with what is normally found on legitimate currency. “If you look at it, at first glance it looks authentic,” Pistone said.

A typical scenario, Pistone said, is someone listing an item for sale and the buyer arriving with fake bills. “When people meet up, it is usually such a quick transaction. most people aren’t examining the money very carefully. It very easily happens.,” he added.

Unknowing individuals aren’t the only one’s caught off guard. “We’ve also seen this money passed at stores,” he said.

Pistone asks residents to be alert and watch for presence of motion picture money.