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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Paper money madness! » » Is it really a federal law to deface money, even for performance purpose? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Ragidy Supreme
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Can anyone break down the facts for me.

Thank you,

Ragidy Supreme
Mehtas
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Are we talking about coins or bills ?

Which countries ?

I Don't know about US bills but there is a thread on US coins HERE

Just scroll down few posts and you'll see the point.

I had the same thoughs about coins before I got the gen from some of our members.
Ragidy Supreme
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I'm talking about US bills. One of my "Bill in Lemon" routines consists of giving George Washington and afro hair do, beard and sunglasses with a Sharpie Marker. I've been doing for quite sometime now but I want to be certain about the laws of the land. It gets a great laughter response from the audience. Someone mentioned that I should use play money but it will never have the same results.

Magically,

Ragidy Supreme
Micheal Leath
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I believe it is ok as long as you are not trying to defraud the government.
Ragidy Supreme
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Maybe just to be safe, I will never perform this at the White House.

Thank you for your feedback.

Ragidy Supreme
Mehtas
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Why not use a heavy leaded pencil ??
airship
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Here's the direct poop from the U.S. Dept. of Engraving & Printing, which prints all U.S. currency:

Quote:
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 the U.S. Mint says about defacing coins:

Quote:
1. Is it illegal to damage or deface coins?

Section 331 of Title 18 of the United States code provides criminal penalties for anyone who “fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the Mints of the United States.” This statute means that you may be violating the law if you change the appearance of the coin and fraudulently represent it to be other than the altered coin that it is. As a matter of policy, the Mint does not promote coloring, plating or altering U.S. coinage: however, there are no sanctions against such activity absent fraudulent intent.


Note the word 'intent' in both passages, a very important word when the law defines criminal activity.

In short, I think they're much more concerned about those who are trying to defraud by altering the value of currency rather than the odd magician or two who's just doing a trick.

But IANAL, and I suppose if they were 'out to get you' they could try to make a case.
'The central secret of conjuring is a manipulation of interest.' - Henry Hay
mrunge
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Airship has it exactly right. Here is the link to the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing to read about this and anything else you might like to know.

http://www.moneyfactory.gov/document.cfm/18/104

Mark.
daffydoug
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Quote:
On 2006-06-08 20:43, airship wrote:
Here's the direct poop from the U.S. Dept. of Engraving & Printing, which prints all U.S. currency:

Quote:
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 the U.S. Mint says about defacing coins:

Quote:
1. Is it illegal to damage or deface coins?

Section 331 of Title 18 of the United States code provides criminal penalties for anyone who “fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the Mints of the United States.” This statute means that you may be violating the law if you change the appearance of the coin and fraudulently represent it to be other than the altered coin that it is. As a matter of policy, the Mint does not promote coloring, plating or altering U.S. coinage: however, there are no sanctions against such activity absent fraudulent intent.


Note the word 'intent' in both passages, a very important word when the law defines criminal activity.

In short, I think they're much more concerned about those who are trying to defraud by altering the value of currency rather than the odd magician or two who's just doing a trick.

But IANAL, and I suppose if they were 'out to get you' they could try to make a case.


Well, if you can't cut or paste a bill together, then we lose a TON of effects that rely on secretly altering bills. Paul Harris's "nightshades" will land you in the slammer, boys. "Hundi Five Hundred" is OUT, and, well, the list goes on and on.

And as for altering coins, Johnson Products is in DEEP doo doo!
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
tbaer
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I've never read or heard of any magicians in the slammer, I guess there is always a first time for everything. But until then, I will keep performing my gaffed money effects.
daffydoug
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Same here...it will take more of a deterent than a litle Government scare to keep me away from the kind of magic that I love
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Ragidy Supreme
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Thank everyone so much for all the insight on defacing money. Have a magical week!

Magically amazing,

Ragidy Supreme
magicmode
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I also mark a bill for a trick. Quite often someone will say that I "defaced it". I point to the picture of the president and say, "no I didn't! 'da-face' is right there!" It's kind of a corny line but it always gets a laugh if delivered properly with a "I know it's a stupid line" smile.


Michael Mode
airship
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The law, as I understand it, has four main purposes:

(1) To keep people from mutilating so much money that it becomes a burden for the government to print or mint enough to keep up with demand. But let's face it, our little group of performers can't begin to make a dent in the vast flow of money that comes out of the government coffers every year.
(2) To keep people from filing down silver and gold coins, keeping the little bits they file off, and still spending the money. This one isn't much of a problem since we quit minting silver coins.
(3) To keep people from melting down coins wholesale when the value of the metal in them becomes greater than the value of the coin. This was once a problem with silver, when the market was being cornered by the Hunt brothers, but again, isn't a problem since we went off the silver standard. Though I understand pennies are now just past the threshold of being a bit more valuable as copper than as coinage.
(4) To keep people from altering bills so they seem to be worth more than they are. As in, for example, pasting the '5's from a five-dollar bill onto the corners of a single, spending it as five and turning in the remains of the original five for a replacement at the bank.

Though they didn't write a 'loophole' into the law just for the benefit of the magic fraternity, and could technically prosecute you for altering money OR encouraging others to alter it, I think the Treasury G-Men have better things to do than toss magicians into prison over a few mangled coins or bills. But it is enough of a legal point that it has kept many authors of magic books from suggesting that you alter real money. They usually recommend you do your work on play money.
'The central secret of conjuring is a manipulation of interest.' - Henry Hay
Astrid
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As an assistant manager for a bank, I can honestly say that I encounter a TON of mutilated cash. And you know what I do about the people who bring it to us? Nuthin. You can bring your mutilated currency to almost any bank (some banks won't accept mutilated coin, however) and switch it out for better condition bills with no problems. (all the banks do is ship it to their central vault, who then ships it to the US mint for destruction) Go ahead and deface all the bills you want. If you're at all concerned, my advice is make friends with the tellers at whatever bank you go to...once you're on their good side it's all dandy from there! Smile
djrdjr
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Quote:
On 2006-06-11 15:14, tbaer wrote:
I've never read or heard of any magicians in the slammer, I guess there is always a first time for everything. But until then, I will keep performing my gaffed money effects.


And bone up on that escape artistry, too! Smile

--d.
gaddy
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Hypothetical scenario (or rather hypothetical in my case, there are OBVIOUSLY dealers doing this- I just bought one 2 days ago!) I buy an uncut sheet of 32 one dollar bills. I cut all the corners into 8 bill shaped "quadraflex bills". this leaves 32 bills with 1/4 missing. I then spend the mutilated bills or return them to a friendly bank to be replaced. I then print up a few (8) instruction sheets and sell this trick for $14.95.

Clearly I have commited some kinda crime, but most dealers do it. What's going on here !?!
*due to the editorial policies here, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
BCaldwell
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Quote:
On 2007-03-12 01:22, gaddy wrote:
Hypothetical scenario (or rather hypothetical in my case, there are OBVIOUSLY dealers doing this- I just bought one 2 days ago!) I buy an uncut sheet of 32 one dollar bills. I cut all the corners into 8 bill shaped "quadraflex bills". this leaves 32 bills with 1/4 missing. I then spend the mutilated bills or return them to a friendly bank to be replaced. I then print up a few (8) instruction sheets and sell this trick for $14.95.

Clearly I have commited some kinda crime, but most dealers do it. What's going on here !?!

If you cut the 32 bill sheet correctly you will end up with 21 mis-made bills, two 1/2 bills (tops), two 1/2 bills (bottoms), six 1/2 bills (right side) and six 1/2 bills (left side). since you are trying to cut the bills exactly the same size as regular bills the pieces you have left are too small to return to the bank. But an uncut sheet of 32 bills is $55 at the Bureay of Engraving http://www.moneyfactory.gov/store/section.cfm/69/83 and twenty one Quadraflex @ $14.95 gets you $313.95 I think they're making out ok!
"...that's just my opinion. I could be wrong." Dennis Miller Smile

~Bob~
gaddy
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Quote:
On 2007-03-12 22:37, BCaldwell wrote:
Quote:
On 2007-03-12 01:22, gaddy wrote:
Hypothetical scenario (or rather hypothetical in my case, there are OBVIOUSLY dealers doing this- I just bought one 2 days ago!) I buy an uncut sheet of 32 one dollar bills. I cut all the corners into 8 bill shaped "quadraflex bills". this leaves 32 bills with 1/4 missing. I then spend the mutilated bills or return them to a friendly bank to be replaced. I then print up a few (8) instruction sheets and sell this trick for $14.95.

Clearly [NO NO NO NO] have commited some kinda crime, but most dealers do it. What's going on here !?!


If you cut the 32 bill sheet correctly you will end up with 21 mis-made bills, two 1/2 bills (tops), two 1/2 bills (bottoms), six 1/2 bills (right side) and six 1/2 bills (left side). since you are trying to cut the bills exactly the same size as regular bills the pieces you have left are too small to return to the bank. But an uncut sheet of 32 bills is $55 at the Bureay of Engraving http://www.moneyfactory.gov/store/section.cfm/69/83 and twenty one Quadraflex @ $14.95 gets you $313.95 I think they're making out ok!




GGGGGGGG
*due to the editorial policies here, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
airship
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Legally, the pieces of a returned bill are supposed to have matching serial numbers if both are present. But you could just take the 1/2 bills and tape them together, then spend them or return them to the bank. I doubt you'd get called on it. Of course, you'd only end up with a total of 8 taped-together half-bills, not 16 partial bills.
'The central secret of conjuring is a manipulation of interest.' - Henry Hay
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