Casinos in the Philippines are on the lookout for gamblers attempting to pass off phony US currency as the real thing.
Last week, the Philippine News Agency reported that three individuals had been arrested at the Resorts World Manila casino for attempting to purchase gaming chips with fake US currency worth around PHP288k (US$5,500).
The three men – one Chinese national, one South Korean national and a former Philippine police officer who was dismissed in 2018 following numerous administrative violations – were rumbled after an alert casino staffer noted that the $100 bills all featured the same serial number.
Major Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, director of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), said the three men had fingered a different South Korean national, James Park, as the source of the funny money. Police have yet to locate Park but have opened an investigation to determine whether there is more counterfeit cash currently circulating through the local casino market.
It remains to be seen where Park obtained the bogus bills. The Atlantic recently published an article detailing US law enforcement’s frustration with the spread of so-called ‘prop cash,’ or bills used in movies.
There are two types of prop cash: the kind that is used in long shots (think Walter White’s 55-gallon drums of cash in Breaking Bad) and more detailed notes for medium- and close-up shots. All of these bills are printed with “For Motion Picture Use Only” and the $100 bills can feature Benjamin Franklin with a major smirk on his face.
US police say a batch of 100 Benjamins can be found via popular online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay for as little as $10 in real cash. One can imagine a cottage industry doing brisk business with wannabe hip-hop performers who need some major cheddar to flip toward the camera but reckon that their audiences won’t be impressed with the $17.82 in real cash they have lying about.
The three gamblers arrested in the Philippines can count themselves lucky. In 2017, a Georgia man attempted to purchase several kilos of cocaine with $230k in movie money and was shot dead when the sellers noticed the fat stacks were actually thin disguises.