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  • Placing Ads on Paper Money?

    It seems there's no limit to the ways people will find to waste their
    time on the web.

    I found the following message rubber stamped in blue (twice) on the face
    of a one dollar bill I received from my bank today:

    See where I've been
    Track where I go next
    www.wheresgeorge.com

    Naturally, I couldn't resist. I went to that website and entered the
    series, serial number and my ZIP and learned that particular piece of
    paper money had already been reported as being seen in Michigan and
    several places here in Taxachusetts before I got it. So what?

    Which brings up my question....Is it against the law to stamp an
    advertising message on paper currency? If not, are we likely to be
    seeing more of that sort of thing in the future?

    Reminds me of the times in the past when I'd occasionally come across a
    dollar bill with something like, "For a good time, call Gloria -
    675-2287" written on it.

    Jeff
    --
    Jeffry Wisnia

    (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)

    "Truth exists; only falsehood has to be invented."


  • #2
    Placing Ads on Paper Money?

    Jeff Wisnia <[email protected]> wrote:
    Which brings up my question....Is it against the law to stamp an advertising message on paper currency? If not, are we likely to be seeing more of that sort of thing in the future?
    Reminds me of the times in the past when I'd occasionally come across a dollar bill with something like, "For a good time, call Gloria - 675-2287" written on it.
    The treasury's website states that it's illegal to deface or damage money to
    the point of it's being unusable so that painting the whole thing with black
    paint would be illegal (but painting only one side could be argued to be
    legal.)
    "Whoever mutilates, cuts, disfigures, perforates, unites or cements together,
    or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of
    debt issued by any national banking association, Federal Reserve Bank, or
    Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be
    reissued, shall be fined not more than $100 or imprisoned not more than six
    months, or both."

    Now it's also illegal to alter a bill/coin in such a way as to change it's
    face or collector's value (such as tearing corners off a $20 and taping them
    to a $1, a very cheap and yet sometimes quite successfull way of
    counterfeiting, or to change a common coin to look like a rarer one) but
    these fall under fraud statutes and isn't really what's being discussed here
    anyways.

    As long as the dollar can still be used as a dollar (even if it's in pieces,
    the bank can still replace it for a whole one and send that one to be
    destroyed) and there's no fraud intended, it's legal.

    But since I am not a laywer, this information is actually worth every penny
    you paid for it and wasn't over-paid for<g>.

    --
    Mike

    -------------------------------
    "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop
    thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do
    we," George W. "Shrub" Bush Aug 5, 2004

    Comment


    • #3
      Placing Ads on Paper Money?

      >It seems there's no limit to the ways people will find to waste their
      time on the web.I found the following message rubber stamped in blue (twice) on the faceof a one dollar bill I received from my bank today:See where I've beenTrack where I go nextwww.wheresgeorge.comNaturally, I couldn't resist. I went to that website and entered theseries, serial number and my ZIP and learned that particular piece ofpaper money had already been reported as being seen in Michigan andseveral places here in Taxachusetts before I got it. So what?
      Some people think it's fun.
      Which brings up my question....Is it against the law to stamp anadvertising message on paper currency? If not, are we likely to beseeing more of that sort of thing in the future?
      What, exactly, is www.wheresgeorge.com selling? The site
      seems to be free to use, even if you sign up so you can see
      where the money goes after you spend it.
      Reminds me of the times in the past when I'd occasionally come across adollar bill with something like, "For a good time, call Gloria -675-2287" written on it.
      There have been all sorts of things put on money. Some of them
      try to make political statements about the economic power of some
      minority group, like stamping bills with "LESBIAN MONEY". Some
      links from "Where's George" discuss this.

      Gordon L. Burditt

      Comment


      • #4
        Placing Ads on Paper Money?

        >Which brings up my question....Is it against the law to stamp an
        advertising message on paper currency?
        Here's the relevant law:
        -----------------------
        Defacement of Currency

        Defacement of currency is a violation of Title 18, Section 333 of the
        United States Code. Under this provision, currency defacement is
        generally defined as follows: Whoever mutilates, cuts, disfigures,
        perforates, unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any
        bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any
        national banking association, Federal Reserve Bank, or Federal Reserve
        System, with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be reissued, shall
        be fined not more than $100 or imprisoned not more than six months, or
        both.

        Defacement of currency in such a way that it is made unfit for
        circulation comes under the jurisdiction of the United States Secret
        Service.
        ----------------

        And here's what it says in the Where's George FAQ with regard to the
        rubber stamps:

        ---------------
        #8 Is it legal to write on or mark currency?
        Where's George? does not encourage the defacement of U.S. Currency. The
        law defines 'illegal' defacement as defacement that renders bills unfit
        to be re-issued
        ---------------

        Oh, and the Where's George database is just for fun, though it has been
        used for other purposes. It was recently used by some scientists to
        model the spread of the flu epidemic. There was an article about it in
        Nature either in January or February.

        I think the site's great, myself, although I keep forgetting to
        register my bills. The owner started it for fun 8 years or so ago,
        just because he thought it would be an interesting exercise. (And he's
        a friend, and a really, really great guy to boot!)

        Comment


        • #5
          Placing Ads on Paper Money?

          [email protected] wrote:
          "Whoever mutilates, cuts, disfigures, perforates, unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, Federal Reserve Bank, or Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be reissued, shall be fined not more than $100 or imprisoned not more than six months, or both." Now it's also illegal to alter a bill/coin in such a way as to change it's face or collector's value (such as tearing corners off a $20 and taping them to a $1, a very cheap and yet sometimes quite successfull way of counterfeiting, or to change a common coin to look like a rarer one) but these fall under fraud statutes and isn't really what's being discussed here anyways.
          Does "any other thing" include burning it? Such as using the
          bill to light my cigar?

          And if so, why do they care? Isn't it the exact opposite of
          counterfeiting?

          Longer before there was Snopes or even a Web, someone told me
          that it's not illegal to deFace the currency, but it is illegal
          to deBase the currency, and I thought provided a reference, but
          more recently I couldn't find it.

          --
          - David Chesler <[email protected]>
          Iacta alea est

          Comment


          • #6
            Placing Ads on Paper Money?

            >> Which brings up my question....Is it against the law to stamp an
            advertising message on paper currency? If not, are we likely to be seeing more of that sort of thing in the future?Amazingly it is not illegal per se. What is illegal is to defacewith the intent to render unfit to be reissued. See United StatesCode, Title 18, Section 333.
            Since part of the fun of Where's George is to track the currency
            *after* you have spent it, and accumulate credit for "hits", it's
            in the interest of the people marking the money to *not* make it
            unfit for use. They want it to circulate.

            Where's George brings up some interesting legal issues, as well.
            There is a kidnapping. The ransom money was demanded in small,
            unmarked bills, but they recorded a few of the serial numbers with
            a camera (so transcription errors are not an issue). I am arrested
            10 minutes after the ransom drop for disturbing the peace involving
            an argument with a 7-11 clerk over alleged roach parts in the food.
            I have a $20 bill with the serial number on the list in my possession,
            and someone spots it when I'm booked. I claim I got it out of an
            ATM machine earlier in the week. Do they have evidence that I was
            involved with picking up the ransom money? Or that I am lying?

            *NO*!! Serial numbers on bills aren't unique. The combination
            (denomination, series, serial number) is supposed to be unique,
            (although I believe there are documented cases where they aren't,
            not involving counterfeiting) but (denomination, serial number)
            isn't, and the administrator of Where's George will tell you that
            finding bills with the same denomination and serial number but
            different series isn't that uncommon at his site. The site asks
            you to double-check the series if you enter one that matches
            denomination and serial number but not series already in the database.
            I've had that happen.

            Are juries told that if possession of a bill with a particular
            serial number is supposed to be evidence of something? Do judges
            know that?

            It would also be interesting to put in a bill and have a notice come
            back that this bill was part of the loot from XYZ bank robbery.

            Gordon L. Burditt

            Comment


            • #7
              Placing Ads on Paper Money?

              David Chesler <[email protected]> wrote:
              [email protected] wrote:
              "Whoever mutilates, cuts, disfigures, perforates, unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, Federal Reserve Bank, or Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be reissued, shall be fined not more than $100 or imprisoned not more than six months, or both." Now it's also illegal to alter a bill/coin in such a way as to change it's face or collector's value (such as tearing corners off a $20 and taping them to a $1, a very cheap and yet sometimes quite successfull way of counterfeiting, or to change a common coin to look like a rarer one) but these fall under fraud statutes and isn't really what's being discussed here anyways.
              Does "any other thing" include burning it? Such as using the bill to light my cigar?
              Actually, upon a re-reading of the above, "dollar bills" are no longer "bank
              notes" (i.e. they no longer indicate a promise of the treasury to pay you in
              "real money" such as gold or silver coin) and thus that statute might not
              even technically apply to them any more.
              And if so, why do they care? Isn't it the exact opposite of counterfeiting?
              Who knows why the government does what it does?<g> But one possible answer
              is that the government has to print the money to begin with and it costs
              about $0.05 to print and distribute a bill. So if you intentionally
              destroyed a bill so that it couldn't be re-issued and you took it to the
              bank for replacement, they'd have to replace it at face value and thus it'd
              cost the treasury to send a replacement to the bank. It might not be much
              but it all adds up. Now if you totally burned the bill, there'd be nothing
              to replace so you'd probably not get charged with a crime, but if you took a
              cigarette to it and burned holes all in it, then it could be turned in for
              replacement and it's more likely to be prosecuted (but even, "more likely"
              doesn't equate to "probably.")
              Longer before there was Snopes or even a Web, someone told me that it's not illegal to deFace the currency, but it is illegal to deBase the currency, and I thought provided a reference, but more recently I couldn't find it.
              Counterfeiting would result in a debasement of the money supply and thus
              debasing money IS illegal, true, but under a different statute.

              --
              Mike

              -------------------------------
              "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop
              thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do
              we," George W. "Shrub" Bush Aug 5, 2004

              Comment


              • #8
                Placing Ads on Paper Money?

                Gordon Burditt wrote:
                Serial numbers on bills aren't unique. The combination (denomination, series, serial number) is supposed to be unique, (although I believe there are documented cases where they aren't, not involving counterfeiting) but (denomination, serial number) isn't,
                <snip>
                Are juries told that if possession of a bill with a particular serial number is supposed to be evidence of something? Do judges know that?
                I never heard of this issue before but would assume that the cops
                offering such evidence would put in evidence of the series as well as
                the denomination and serial #. Wouldn't a photo of the face of the
                bill show that as well?

                If all the cops did was write down serial #s, I would agree with you
                that this is ripe for cross-examination by defense counsel regarding
                the lack of uniqueness of such #s. But IMO it still wouldn't prevent
                the evidence from being admitted and having _some_ probative weight,
                since absolute uniqueness isn't required by law; evidence is relevant
                and admissible if it makes a given fact at issue more likely so than
                not so, and is not unduly prejudicial.

                Take another example. If an eyewitess testifies that a vehicle
                involved in a hit-and-run collision was a green 2003 Chevy Suburban,
                even though he didn't see the license number, that evidence is still
                admissible and may help prove the guilt of a suspect who also owns a
                green 2003 Suburban, even though there are thousands of green 2003
                Suburbans in existence. It is probative even if the suspect owns a
                2004 Chevy Suburban, or a 2002 GMC Suburban. Those are close enough
                that the eyewitness could have easily made a mistake in the absolute
                identification but did see a vehicle whose appearance was consistent
                with and _could_ have been the one owned by the defendant. That,
                alone, probably is not enough to convict, but taken together with other
                probative evidence, it does have probative value and would be
                admissible.

                The weaker such evidence is, though, the more likely the jury is to
                disregard it especially if the defense counsel thoroughly
                cross-examines.

                --
                This posting is for discussion purposes, not professional advice.
                Anything you post on this Newsgroup is public information.
                I am not your lawyer, and you are not my client in any specific legal
                matter.
                For confidential professional advice, consult your own lawyer in a
                private communication.
                Mike Jacobs
                LAW OFFICE OF W. MICHAEL JACOBS
                10440 Little Patuxent Pkwy #300
                Columbia, MD 21044
                (tel) 410-740-5685 (fax) 410-740-4300

                Comment

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