If you’ve ever been stuck having to buy something with a $50 or $100 bill in the last decade, you have probably had to stand there while a store clerk performs the marker test to see if the note is legitimate. Unfortunately, that test doesn’t work on older bills, and that’s how a Tennessee man ended up in jail over the weekend.
After a $50 bill didn’t pass muster at a Shelbyville-area convenience store, the clerk notified police, who then arrested the man attempting to use it as legal tender.
“The front side of the bill was off center and it didn’t feel like a normal bill, it did look to be counterfeit,” wrote the arresting officer in his report.
It wasn’t until after the man was behind bars that an evidence tech at the police department mentioned that the markers won’t work on older bills.
So the officer took the bill to two banks, both of which deemed it “real but very old.”
Finally, the man was released. The officer apologized and told him to have a bank exchange the old bill for a new one.
On the topic of false arrests for real bills, Consumerist reader Mark points us to a this story of a 13-year-old girl in Georgia who was recently charged with trying to pass a genuine $20 bill.
So if you have any old $50 or $100 bills you received as a gift from grandma, you might want to take a second look at it. And if you ever think you may actually be in possession of a counterfeit bill, the Secret Service has these instructions on how to notify them.