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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Nothing up my sleeve... » » Important information for people using and/or selling unmarked replicas of U.S. coins. » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Thomas Wayne
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Quote:
On 2010-03-31 18:41, jmagic wrote:
Important legal information that is well known by most everyone. It is illegal to deface US money.This means all of the following actions are illegal:
Marking a bill with a pen
Drilling a hole in a coin
Making a shell
Making a folding coin
Making a copper/silver coin
etc,etc,etc
All of the above and anything like could result in fines and a jail term.
What shall we do now??


I'm sorry, but that is completely incorrect. It is only illegal to "deface US Money" if you do so with the intent to defraud. None of the actions you mention above are illegal unless you are taking those actions as part of a scheme to cheat someone.

TW
MOST magicians: "Here's a quarter, it's gone, you're an idiot, it's back, you're a jerk, show's over." Jerry Seinfeld
jmagic
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You should check out the US code title 18, part 1, chapter 17 331 It says defacing is illegal. It says nothing about intent to defraud.
Mb217
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Man, this is like To Tell The Truth, remember that old show. Smile I like all this technical stuff as you never quite know who's retort is truer, and you just know most people here never even heard of "US code title 18, part 1, chapter 17 331." Smile

But I bet the precisioned Thomas Wayne has. Scary stuff. Smile
*Check out my latest: Double Trouble, FlySki, Crimp Change - REDUX!, and other fine magic at www.VinnyMarini.com Smile

"Not much new under the sun I hear but under the moon, well who knows, that just might be a horse of a different color." -Mb Smile
Thomas Wayne
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Quote:
On 2010-03-31 21:05, jmagic wrote:
You should check out the US code title 18, part 1, chapter 17 331 It says defacing is illegal. It says nothing about intent to defraud.


May YOU should check out that part of US Code... more carefully. There are two very different types of legal tender issued by the US Government - paper currency and metal coinage. Here is the language of Section 333 of that chapter, covering the potential criminal aspect of "defacing" paper currency:

Quote:
"Whoever mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or
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, or Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal Reserve System,
with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence
of debt unfit to be reissued
, shall be fined under this title or
imprisoned not more than six months, or both.[emphasis added]


Intent under that statute is going to be very hard to prove, assuming you are not attempting some sort of fraud - such as cutting the corner indexes from a hundred-dollar bill and pasting them onto a one-dollar bill. It's unlikely your example of "Marking a bill with a pen " would qualify for such intent, and I don't see anyone doing time for possessing a Hundy 500 setup.

However, the bulk of your concerns address metal coins:

Quote:
On 2010-03-31 18:41, jmagic wrote:
[...] all of the following actions are illegal:
...
Drilling a hole in a coin
Making a shell
Making a folding coin
Making a copper/silver coin
etc,etc,etc
All of the above and anything like could result in fines and a jail term.


Coins - which is really the area that MOST magicians would be concerned with - are covered under a different section of the statute (Section 331, noted in your most recent post), which reads:

Quote:
"Whoever fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes,
falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the mints of
the United States, or any foreign coins which are by law made current
or are in actual use or circulation as money within the United States;
or whoever fraudulently possesses, passes, utters, publishes, or
sells, or attempts to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or brings into
the United States, any such coin, knowing the same to be altered,
defaced, mutilated, impaired, diminished, falsified, scaled, or
lightened shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than
five years, or both."[emphasis added]


The Law is often very precisely written, and must therefore often be very precisely read.

TW
MOST magicians: "Here's a quarter, it's gone, you're an idiot, it's back, you're a jerk, show's over." Jerry Seinfeld
Strange Tasting Fish Sticks
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Regarding the coin looking like a morgan, it doesn't matter as long as it has copy stamped on it. Several promnient collectors companies, crank out tons of replica coins for collectors. One of them is National Collectors Mint. You often times find their ads on TV. In fact I have an old "gold" coin from them that has copy stamped on it. It is a replica exactly of one of the gold coins that used to be minted early in the 1800's to late 1700's.

http://nationalcollectorsmint.com/produc......&id=2526
http://nationalcollectorsmint.com/produc......id=10932
DaddyDoodle
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I don't see any reference to intent to defraud. It does mention creation and it does mention mutilates and it does mention defacing and it does mention possession. Just my $0.02...

...however, the term "fraudulently" DOES imply, by definition, the intent to defraud (Google search term "define:fraudulently").

Here's the code:
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/usc......00-.html

Here's the text:
Whoever fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the mints of the United States, or any foreign coins which are by law made current or are in actual use or circulation as money within the United States; or
Whoever fraudulently possesses, passes, utters, publishes, or sells, or attempts to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or brings into the United States, any such coin, knowing the same to be altered, defaced, mutilated, impaired, diminished, falsified, scaled, or lightened—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
Smile Tally-ho! And Tuscarora too! Smile
EventEntertainer
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Alright after serveral calls to the FTC, Treasury, US Mint and a visit to the local Secret Service field office (can't be too careful Smile ), I talked with Alex at the Secret Service and got this:

Per 18 USC Section 485 it is ONLY illegal is you intend to fraud or pass the coin(s) as legitimate currency. There is NOTHING wrong with selling, buying or using these coins for magic tricks and other demonstrations.

I also called the FTC in regards to the Hobby Protection Act. Again it's OK...Just like any other prop (deck of cards, etc), this is a prop used in the normal course of business.

Hope this helps!
Consultant, performer, creator, and all around nice guy!
Mb217
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Sure does, thank you. It's just about what I said or implied as to intent when used by magicians - much ado about nothing. Glad you spoke with Agent Alex Smile and got the skinny on this a bit beyond the oft regurgitated rules & regulations meant mostly to combat the intent of bad guys. With all due respect, keep reading that stuff too much and you'll have everyone headed to the Big House under the sheer technicality of it all, sorta like the McCarthy era in his incessant hunt for communist amongst us, or something like that.... Smile

Oh well, now I can go back to not worrying about something not worth worrying about under a more proper balance of what's what. Smile Thanks again EE and thanks to all for their views and perspectives, but beware, T. Wayne lurks with the slide rule in hand. Smile
*Check out my latest: Double Trouble, FlySki, Crimp Change - REDUX!, and other fine magic at www.VinnyMarini.com Smile

"Not much new under the sun I hear but under the moon, well who knows, that just might be a horse of a different color." -Mb Smile
DaddyDoodle
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I'm with Mb. It's more to the argument of interpretation. Yes, the letter says it's wrong; however, interpretation says the intent is to defraud. So, unless you go selling them on the Café as originals, then the Secret Service is pretty much unconcerned with you. Again, however, there's nothing saying another Joe McCarthy couldn't re-interpret it and start a witch hunt. I think I gave my $0.02 last post, so this will be my $0.03 worth. Smile
Smile Tally-ho! And Tuscarora too! Smile
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Nothing up my sleeve... » » Important information for people using and/or selling unmarked replicas of U.S. coins. » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (2 Likes)
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