I was at work, in the middle of happily writing my Facebook’s Birthday story when I received an excited call from my sister.
My mom, who was in town for the night, had just hit for $1,500 on a two cent slot machine at Soaring Eagle Casino.
When I talked to my mom moments later, she said the entire casino came to a complete stop when the machine’s bells started ringing and the lights began to flash. A manager and a few other staff members walked over to her, checked her identification and one by one, counted out 15 $100 bills into her hand.
For as far back as I can remember, my mom has always held the philosophy that when she wins, we (my sister and I) win, too. She said each of is were going to receive a $100 bill. It was a promise that she filled the next morning after some coffee and breakfast at IHOP.
We made a quick stop to pick up Court and mine’s paychecks at Warriner Hall before heading to 5/3 bank. Apparently, last year, I made arrangements to have my CM Life checks direct deposit. My business at the bank was to confirm that funds had in fact been deposited into my checking account. But since I was at the counter anyway, I decided to break my $100 into $20s. The teller stared at the bill for what was probably a solid 30 seconds before telling me he’d “be right back.”
At first, I assumed that perhaps it was protocol. All banks seem to become paranoid when they are given large bills. But after a few minutes had passed, I knew something as up.
A woman came through one of the side doors, extended her hand, introduced herself and then asked for me to come into her office.
Immediately, my mom piped up from behind me. “Is this about the $100.” She probably looked like a nosy customer and they ignored her. It took a moment to explain to these people the origin of the bills and to verify that this woman was not a complete random.
As we were shuffled into this lady’s office, she immediately explained that the money was suspicious, but also that she didn’t think that we had a printed these bills out of our basement.
As she laid my $100 out on her desk, I immediately saw what she was referring to. Benjamin Franklin’s face, the watermark that can usually only be seen when it is raised to light, was clear on the surface of the money.
Another one of the bills seemed disproportionate. The rectangular shaped frame that encased the green coloring, Franklin’s face and information (like the serial number) had very little paper on it’s outside toward the top, but much more toward the bottom.
Five of the 100’s were suspicious.
At this point we were told that it was a possibility that they were counterfeit bills that had already been reported that were accidentally still in circulation. If this were to be the case, then my mom would still be given the $500 and the teller would be out the money.
We moved offices where a woman dialed The Secret Service to check the serial numbers of the bills. It turned out that none of the bills had been reported to the offices as suspicious.
This is my $100 bill:
Notice how the sides of this one are uneven:
You can see Benjamin Franklin’s face on the surface of the money:
That’s when the woman told us that they would be sent to the Secret Service for investigation. If they were found to be fraudulent, the Secret Service would destroy them and my mom would be out $500. It was a chance my mom didn’t want to take. She told this woman she was going back to the casino. I was surprised when she looked relieved. It was something the bank no longer had to deal with.
So we go back to the casino. I’m thinking we’re going to go show someone a receipt and they’re going to exchange the money. Nope. My mom goes straight to a cash machine, puts in the hundreds and swaps them for $20s. The only one the machine wouldn’t take was my $100, the one with the Franklin face visible on the surface.
To resolve this problem, my mom went over to a slot machine and slid in the money. To my surprise, it was accepted. My mom hit the “cash out” button the second it lit up and a receipt popped out. She exchanged her receipt for $20s, then we walked out.
Now that I think about it, there probably wouldn’t be an incentive for my mom if she were to have taken the money to the management. Because she didn’t address the problem the moment the money was handed to her, because she didn’t notice that there was anything wrong with the money, she probably would have lost her money. I’ve heard stories about people being screwed out of $20 and $50. They came back to the local businesses where they received the bogus bucks and weren’t given an exchange.
Because there’s no incentive to saying anything, I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t the first time this has happened. And I have to wonder just how much counterfeit money is floating around in Mount Pleasant.
We did a story a couple of weeks back about counterfeit money, but not about how people that are unlucky enough to be handed one of these bills are screwed out of money. I talked to the Lifers about. We want to have someone interview my mom. It will be interesting to see if anyone else has had a problem in the last year.