Customer Asks Grocery Store Clerk For Change On A $1 Million Dollar Bill Then Freaks Out

A unidentified man asked a clerk at a Giant Eagle store in Pittsburgh to make change on a $1 million dollar bill featuring Grover Cleveland’s portrait. When the cashier refused and confiscated the fake money, the man attacked an electronic funds transfer machine and then reached for her price scanning gun.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

When the manager refused — telling the man the store had a policy of not returning counterfeit money — the man became enraged and grabbed an electronic funds transfer machine and slammed it against the counter, McNeilly said.

The man then reached for the cashier’s scanner gun, and the manager called police, McNeilly said.

The man was not carrying identification and refused to give his name to police. He was being held yesterday in the Allegheny County Jail as John Doe.

McNeilly said police hope to identify him through fingerprints.

The largest bill in circulation is the $100, but there once once a $1,000 bill that featured Grover Cleveland. Police say the fake bill may have been part of a pamphlet distributed by a Dallas-based church.

Cashier in Pittsburgh has million reasons to doubt[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]


Edit Your Comment

  1. hypnotik_jello says:

    The United States doesn’t have hyperinflation just yet. I mean seriously, did he really think they would even have change for a $1M note?

    dumber than iRocks.

  2. blue_duck says:

    I guess I’ll just keep my $5,000,000,000.00 bill in my pocket for a little while longer…

  3. Jeff_McAwesome says:

    I’m pretty sure that there were once $100,000 bills. They were not in circulation. IIRC, they were used by banks.

  4. SVreader says:

    Once when I was a cashier, I was given a counterfeit one dollar bill. It wasn’t even the right color green. Or printed straight.

  5. pdxguy says:

    I often get $2 bills as change from the bank. Most people have seen them or heard of them – so no problem. But, then I forget and go thru the drive-thru at some fast-food place. The teenagers there have trouble making change for the more popular denominations even when the digital cash register is telling them how much the change is. I hand them a $2 bill and it’s like their skull is about to explode with puzzlement.

  6. RvLeshrac says:


    They were in circulation for years, then they were used for large cash bank transfers, then were eventually phased out and destroyed entirely. They are no longer legal-tender (like silver and gold certificates).

  7. hypnotik_jello says:

    @pdxguy: Sounds like the time Woz was hassled for having a bunch of $2 bills (apparently he collects them)

  8. blue_duck says:

    @pdxguy: I love that (sarcasm). I once got 11 free tacos from Del Taco b/c the kid kept insisting I paid. I got tired of arguing and just left.

  9. Beerad says:

    What about the $10,000 bill? The one with all the presidents on it? They’re having a party. Jimmy Carter is passed out on the couch.

  10. forever_knight says:

    @RvLeshrac: i believe silver and gold certificates are still legal-tender. they are not, however, redeemable for silver or gold anymore.

  11. blue_duck says:

    @Beerad: If you look closer, you can see the pyramid of beer cans.

  12. jeffjohnvol says:

    My grandfather has a $500 bill, one of the originals before it went out of circulation.

  13. @pdxguy: They think it’s fake.

    Hell, I looked it up because I wasn’t sure you weren’t kidding.

  14. mmcnary says:

    I once had some high school kid insist that my $2 bill was a fake, because there’s no such thing as a two-dollar bill…

  15. RvLeshrac says:


    Oh, wait, that was $100,000. I thought you said $1,000.

    There were $500, $1k, $5k and $10k notes (and certificates) of various types, but not $100k notes.

  16. RvLeshrac says:


    They’re legal to hold, but the treasury is currently under no obligation to honor them.

    Prior to 196X, it was actually illegal to have them in your posession.

  17. Anonymously says:

    I was given one of these at a parade. A web address for some wacko religious thing was printed on it. It was obviously fake in so many ways, but it doesn’t surprise me that someone thought it was real.

  18. liquisoft says:

    At a design agency I previously worked for, somebody in the office had $1,000,000 bills made with his portrait on them.

    I should’ve tried cashing them. It’s such a brilliant idea!

  19. supra606 says:

    @Beerad: I don’t know. I wouldn’t be able to plow any other driveways (I’m sorry, I know he said that before, not after Homer described the bill to him).

  20. GreatCaesarsGhost says:
  21. OnceWasCool says:

    What about the 3 dollar bill? oops sorry, that was Michael Jackson!

  22. protest says:

    ah pittsburgh, you are my shimmering beacon of intelligence…

  23. JohnMc says:

    Even if this bill was legit it would have still been illegal to pass it for change. Before EFT came around the Fed Reserve had what was called ‘inter exchange currency’ for use strictly for the Fed. The lowest denomination was $100,000 (which for a time was legal tender in circulation, later withdrawn.) up to $10m notes. But possession of these notes by other than a federal courier was a federal offense.

  24. FightOnTrojans says:

    I used to work at an amusement park and part of my job was to investigate possible counterfeit bills. One of our brilliant clerks thought a $3 bill with a a cartoony portrait of Bill Clinton was legit. It even said in big bold letters “NOT LEGAL TENDER” and “FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY”! On the both the front and back it said “Crooked as a Three Dollar Bill.” And she accepted this as payment.

    Sometimes we got legit $1 bills, but the “1” was replaced with “50” or “100” (usually cut off from a legit bill, or printed on the cotton paper and taped on).

    I can’t even count how many times I had to tell the clerks that $2 bills were legit.

    The gullibility and ignorance of what I saw scared me.

  25. marsneedsrabbits says:

    I think everyone is missing the big picture.
    This guy fully expected to buy whatever and get the rest back in change. He’s thinking “Dammit. I bought Tic Tacs for .89. Where’s my $999,999.11 in change?”

  26. chipslave says:

    I hate those folded up churchy $20’s that people would leave on the table as part of my “tip”. Gee thanks… a bible quote. Now I can feed myself…

  27. backbroken says:

    @chipslave: I guess the quote wasn’t about loaves and fishes.

  28. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    I hope this was a joke.

  29. backbroken says:

    Why do I have a feeling the guy was irate because the same store DID give him change the previous week for his $1 mill bill.

  30. scarletvirtue says:

    @IRSistherootofallevil: I have a feeling that it wasn’t a joke, which really makes it scary.

  31. B says:

    Homer: [on the phone, disguising his voice]
    There’s a $10,000 bill in it for you.
    Barney: Oh yeah? Which president’s on it?
    Homer: Uh… All of them. They’re having a party. Jimmy Carter’s
    passed out on the couch.
    Barney: Wow!

  32. IndyJaws says:

    Whatever happened to “The customer is always right?” This is a consumer website – I expected more out of you people. If the man paid with a $1,000,000 dollar bill, the store should give him change.

    (testing…testing…1…2…3…sarcasm alert)

  33. B says:

    @backbroken: I think he was irate because he gave change to somebody else for the $1 mil bill.

  34. Kurtz says:

    We need to bring back the $1000 bill because Grover Cleveland was was, in the words of a Wonkette pundit, a stone cold pimp.


  35. Yourhero88 says:

    I think more inane than the man’s belief that the note was indeed legal tender, is the fact that the teller saw this obvious novelty item as some sort of plausible counterfeit threat, worthy of confiscation.

  36. @pdxguy: Had a friend have mall security called on him at a mall Taco Bell for trying to give the kid a $2 bill. Kid insisted he was passing counterfeit money because there was no such thing as a $2.

    @marsneedsrabbits: LOL. This person is ALWAYS the first one into the convenience store at 9 a.m. on a Sunday when you can’t break anything bigger than a $20 yet! I remember this person from high school cashier jobs. ARGH!

  37. rdm24 says:

    My favorite denom is the $3, of course.

  38. rdm24 says:

    Given the head explosions $2-bills can cause, I would say it’s likely someone out there might be fooled into accepting phoney $1M-bills.

  39. blue_duck says:

    @Yourhero88: But the fact of damage to the store’s property after the confiscation still remains.

  40. UpsetPanda says:

    I think this guy’s a little off his rocker. Just a tad. Maybe he bought the rocker with his other $1 million bill and a little fairy dust.

  41. blue_duck says:

    @MissJ: The fairy dust made it fly to his home. Standard delivery wasn’t enough.

  42. erratapage says:

    Wow! a cashier confiscated some Monopoly money!!!! The customer handed it over. It’s probably a crime to pass off $1,000,000 fake money as legal tender, even if the fake money isn’t counterfeit.

    I say the store is in the right! (As long as they didn’t make him produce his receipt on the way to the police station).

  43. UpsetPanda says:

    @blue_duck: Well, I guess if he were to use his $1 million bill for a pair of Bang and Olufsen headphones, he should expect nothing less than expedited delivery via United Pixie Service.

  44. Lightmatrix says:

    If a $2 bill is confusing to some, I can’t imagine what the sacagawea dollar coin does to others!

    I myself am disappointed in this man, if it were me, I’d at least of tried using my trillion dollar bill.


  45. CoffeeAddict says:

    $1M note, I think anyone who believes it was real enough to pass off at a store really has deeper issues and should be checked into a mental health facility. When you read more of the story it becomes quite evident that the person in this story is not well and needs help and lots of it.

  46. chatterboxwriting says:

    I used a half dollar at McDonald’s last week and the cashier looked at it, looked at me, and said “is this a dollar?”

  47. Anonymous says:

    I remember when the saying, “as queer as a $2” was popular.
    Since the $2 came out again, I wonder what the current saying is!

  48. lestat730 says:

    Wow, what the hell was that guy on? PCP?

  49. lestat730 says:

    @chipslave: Are you serious? People actually leave you a folded up fake 20 with a bible quote on it? I’ve never heard of such a thing and I’m amazed at how messed up and cruel that is to put that down as part of a tip. Get the person all excited only to realize its religious propaganda. Sheesh, if they absolutely NEED to leave some religious crap on the table with your tip they shouldn’t do it with something that looks like real money at first glance. While I’m not one for religion, I have no problem with people of faith but I always have a problem when people try to preach to me in any way what so ever.

  50. Namilia says:

    I remember learning money back in elementary school, and they did teach about Susan B Anthonys’ (or is it Anthony’s? ‘s is singular so I think I’m right..) and half dollar coins, and how to make change using these coins.

    Do they still teach this, or do they just do penny/nickel/dime/quarter now? I’m certain they don’t teach about $2 bills anymore.

  51. tedyc03 says:

    I remember reading a news story about a guy who was arrested after paying for groceries with two dollar bills. The story was that the clerk didn’t know that the $2 bill was legal, so he called police. The guy buying the groceries had just gotten a whole stack of $2 bills from the bank (he gave them away to kids at Christmas so he just got a big stack of them). Of course, the police arrived and noting that the serial numbers were sequential, arrested the man for counterfeiting money. It took the U.S. Secret Service to determine that in fact, the money was legitimate. I would be PISSED.

  52. GitEmSteveDave says:


    Cool stuff from the fed. When my mother worked at a bank, they had a guy who would give his wife 5 – $1000 bills for xmas. Picture trying to cash those at Taco Bell. Or worse, Best Buy, where they call the police for $2 bills.

  53. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    Silver certificates & gold US notes have never been illegal to hold. It’s just that the Treasury won’t redeem them for either precious metal anymore.

    The $100,000 bills were only for transfers for between Federal Reserve Banks.

    There have also been $500,000,000 Treasury bonds printed & issued.
    I have no idea who bought them, but even the canceled ones would be collector’s items.@

  54. rockergal says:

    wasnt there a $500.00 bill?

  55. interocitor says:

    Someone gave me one of these bills when I worked at Target — definitely related to a church. She handed it to me and said, “Keep the change.” I’m not sure why she felt that a random retail clerk needed saving, or why she thought fake money with President Cleveland’s mug would do the trick. But, I did keep it. For the laffs.

  56. MrEvil says:

    @tedyc03: I think that story has to be some kind of urban legend. I’ve heard the EXACT story, only it involved Best Buy and a pissed off customer paying with $2 bills out of spite. The man was arrested because the ink wasn’t quite dry and the bills had sequential serial numbers. Of course the man was released when the Secret Service examined the $2 bills, informed Best Buy that $2 are legal bills. And that the ones the customer used were not counterfeit. In fact for a denom like the $2 that’s not circulated alot, if you can get your bank to give you ANY of them, they’re often fresh out of the BPE (Bureau of Printing and Engraving) presses. Fresh bills often don’t have completely dry ink and if you get them from the bank fresh from the BPE they also have sequential serials.

  57. waxigloo says:

    Ummm…neither way is correct. One does not use apostrophes for plural nouns — they are used for possessive nouns. No apostrophe was necessary at all in your sentence.

  58. waxigloo says:

    I tried to use a $2 bill to pay for a slurpee once at a 7-11 when I was a child. The man yelled at me (in his delightful Indian accent) that next time I should bring real money and proceeded to give my money back and tell me to take my slurpee for free. All the more reason to keep paying with $2 bills!

  59. Dr.Ph0bius says:

    So if the largest bill is a $1000 bill… then the man wasnt trying to pass “counterfeit” money, since what he handed them was not a reproduction of any actual bill in circulation. Wouldnt that kind of be like trying to pay with monopoly money or one of those novelty bills? It doesnt matter I guess, but I was just thinking that if it isnt actually a counterfeit bill, the store has no right to confiscate it…


  60. KF4 says:

    $2 bills are great for low-rent strip clubs. Not the nice ones, but you know the kind. Not…that…I’d know anything about that at all, just saying…

  61. RvLeshrac says:


    Not quite. The Treasury and banks have almost never had any need to shuffle around paper currency – a slip of paper is worth just as much to the “right” person, even LESS to the “wrong” person, and serves the same purpose where a large-sum transfer is concerned.

    The largest notes ever issued were the $100,000 Gold Certificate and the $10,000 Federal Reserve Note.


    Crap. You don’t get “freshly printed” notes, ever. They’re also not sequentially packed. The reason sequential serial numbers are a dead giveaway is because you *don’t* get sequential bills except when whole sheets of currency are ordered as collector’s items – and collectors don’t cut up the full sheets. Usually. It isn’t impossible, but highly unlikely.