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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Paper money madness! » » Altering Curency While Avoiding The Federal Penn. (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

daffydoug
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I'm not sure whether to post this here, or in secret sessions. 

Maybe I'll post here ab initio, then go to secret sessions if I determine that what I propose won't land me in Federal Prison.

I was simply wondering exactly HOW MUCH one can alter a dollar bill before it might bring legal trouble or land me a place with three square a day....

I know Danny Garcia had us doing some "alteration" for his "Fraud" effect. I used the effect and am still a free citizen. However, the change on the bills landscape that I am thinking about is much more blatant, that is, IF I can ever figure out how to pull it off convincingly. 

Any thoughts?
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Bill Hegbli
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Any time I alter a bill by erasing a portion of say the serial number, that bill will never be used for anything else. I keep to use for the magic trick. I believe the real trouble is when a bill is altered and a person tries to pass it along as legal tender. Say like the old trick of bleaching a bill and changing a dollar bill to a hundred dollar bill.

The government sells sheets of bills, and although they are legal tender, they are not expected to enter circulation. That is why we have the half bill and the 3 corner bill mismade bills.

That is my thoughts on altering currency.
lunatik
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I would assume that one of your altered bills would be used only in performance and probably given away. Depending on what effect you perform, I would think that they would keep it as a souvenir. I would be surprised if they tried to effect a citizens arrest! I personally wouldn't worry about it Smile
"Don't let your Dreams become Fantasies"
daffydoug
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True. It's not that I'm worried about an immediate citizen's arrest, just thinking about if it got eventually reported or in the wrong hands.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Dougini
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Well, I would not perform "Fraud" at a bank. Might raise questions...

Doug
J-Mac
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It's only illegal if there is an intent to defraud by using the bill as legal tender.

IANAL (But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express.... Smile )

Jim
daffydoug
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What is IANAL?
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
egoli
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IANAL = I Am Not A Lawyer
daffydoug
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Ok. Thanks!
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
XavrosStalkingwolf
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If anyone wants the official legal wording on defacing paper currency, you can find it here: http://goo.gl/6myT15 . There is also this seemingly well-thought response from someone on Google Answers:

"Note that this is also an intent-based crime. An element of the offense is "...intent to render such [currency] unfit to be reissued." As there does not appear to be any case law interpreting this statute, and there is nothing on point in the Code of Federal Regulations, it is difficult to say how this would be applied by the courts if the defendant intended to destroy the currency but had no specific regard for his acts' effect on the ability of the Federal Reserve System's ability to reissue the note. Given that intent requirement, it seems unlikely that a prosecution would be possible if the primary purpose of the destruction of the currency was a speech act (e.g, protesting government action by publicly burning currency)."

Now I guess this raises the question of whether or not destroying a bill for the sake of art is also considered freedom of speech, therefore circumventing the pesky issue of intent.

Good luck!
RobertlewisIR
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I'm not a lawyer, but these are my thoughts.

The purpose of that law is to prevent fraudulent activity. Does it extend as far as to prohibit what magicians do? Quite possibly. But it sure as hell hasn't been enforced against magicians in the past. Seems to me that it would cost a hell of a lot to prosecute someone for that crime if all they're doing is a harmless magic trick. However, even in the context of a magic trick, if you start adding zeroes after the one on a dollar bill, you're going to find yourself in a bit of trouble, I'd wager.

I'd also wager that IF someone got in trouble for it, even a mediocre lawyer could probably make it go away. It just wouldn't be worth anyone's trouble to pursue it.
~Bob



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Last night, I dreamed I ate the world's largest marshmallow. When I woke up, the pillow was gone.
Steven Conner
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I'm in myrtle beach right now and just saw a few hundred one dollar bills with all sorts of celebrities and cartoons as the face on the bill. All are legal.
"The New York Papers," Mark Twain once said,"have long known that no large question is ever really settled until I have been consulted; it is the way they feel about it, and they show it by always sending to me when they get uneasy. "
ralphs007
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I don't think the government really cares what you do with your money. Just look at what they do with ours when they get it.They spend it like drunken sailors and the rest they give away to other countries ! So I wouldn't worry if I were you.
"You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him".
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MRSharpe
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You probably won't go to the federal Penn unless you show your gaffs to the wrong bank Teller. Sorry, but it was there.
Seriously, if you ever need to redeem a gaffed bill--and why else would you be concerned about legal trouble--you can always take them to a bank and turn them in as damaged. Use rubber cement for adhesive since it is removable and save pieces that are left over after cutting sections out for effects. Then tape them back together and take them to a bank. The mint redeems damaged bills as long as there is enough of the bill left and a serial number is even barely legible. And, I once took a seven bill set for Money Talks from George Anderson's Magic Digest and put them in a change machine with no problem.
I also watched another magician put a dime an penny set into a soda machine. He realized it after he did it and said, "man, that Coke just cost me $10.25!" but then, that another matter since it is legal to alter coins.
Custom Props Designer and Fabricator as well as Performer from Indiana, USA
wwhokie1
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Never give away or spend your gaffed bills, then you only have to worry about being turned in by yourself.
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