Attention Counterfeiters: Don't Put Lincoln On The $100 Bill Or You Will Be Arrested, Tasered

37-year-old Mesa, Arizona resident Scott Martin didn’t understand why a shop owner wouldn’t sell him a watch in exchange for two $100 bills bearing Abraham Lincoln’s watermark. The shop owner gently explained that President Lincoln appears on the penny and the $5 bill. This was enough to start a fight that ended with the shop owner tasering Martin.

When fire rescue personnel arrived, they cut off Martin’s shirt to treat him, and three more counterfeit $100 bills fell out, the document said.

In addition, two more fake $100 bills and one counterfeit $20 bill were found under Martin’s armpit, officers said.

Martin, who later told authorities he had swallowed a bag of meth, is being held on forgery charges. The $100 bill, the largest U.S. bill in circulation, pictures diplomat and pre-taser electricity taunter Benjamin Franklin.

Police: Fake $100 Bills Had Lincoln’s Image [WDSU]
(Photo: Wikipedia)


Edit Your Comment

  1. valarmorghulis says:

    I don’t see why he didn’t give the guy change with four Washington $25.00 bills. What a stupid shop owner.

  2. aloe vera says:


  3. Zerkaboid says:

    Well done to the shop owner who caught this. I’ve seen so many people in retail just accept $50’s and $100’s with barely a glance, I’m glad that someone out there is looking out.

  4. bsalamon says:

    looks like a confederate $100 bill

  5. kris in seattle says:

    Is that the original bill? If so, bravo for having the balls to try and use a bill that looks NOTHING like US currency.

  6. rmz says:

    “Martin, who later told authorities he had swallowed a bag of meth”


  7. Peeved Guy says:

    @rmz: Chased by a big glass of stupid

  8. azntg says:

    I guess if you’re going to go down with the authorities, you might as well go down hard. Swallowed a bag of meth and counterfeit bills? That’s gotta leave a mark!

  9. Szin says:

    Man, people just seem to be getting tazered a lot lately.

  10. theblackdog says:

    @Szin: People on meth do get crazy.

  11. ekthesy says:


    No, that is an actual $100 bill, circa 1880. I thought it was the actual counterfeit, until I looked closer and figured that would be way too much trouble to make for a guy who swallows meth.

  12. se7a7n7 says:

    BSALAMON – I don’t think the Confederates would have put Lincoln on their money. At best they would have put him on a dart board.

  13. cde says:

    @MarlaSinger: What about having nothing of a sense of US HISTORY.

    That looks like an old silver note.

  14. Asvetic says:

    Comedy Gold, you can’t make this stuff up, people!

  15. humorbot says:

    You’re telling me these O’Donnell dollars are no good?

  16. B says:

    I must say, I like the design much better than real currency. Although, the design is rather busy.

  17. yesteryear says:

    shouldn’t he get credit for historical accuracy?

  18. DrGirlfriend says:

    Yes it’s a 19th century note, but is does not, in fact, look anything like $100 bills in use today.

    But I guess good ol’ Methy McMetherson would have no clue what a $100 bill looks like.

  19. huadpe says:

    @cde: Since it doesn’t mention a metal, it’s almost surely a gold note as opposed to a silver note. Remember the free silver movement and Bryan’s cross of gold speech? Silver was implemented circa 1906, and that bill says 1880 towards the top left.

  20. econobiker says:

    The sad thing is that if the bill was original it might be worth just a tad bit more than $100.

    He should have stuck with copying the gold and silver certificates…

  21. savvy999 says:

    What’s going on in the lower right corner of that bill? Naked boy is reading a scroll, while Scarlet O’Hara is getting a good right angle with a try square?

  22. Mr_Human says:

    Ah, youth! Oh wait, he’s 37.

  23. darkened says:

    @econobiker: He most likely stole them from a house and yes i agree they are most likely worth far more than $100 each.

  24. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @DrGirlfriend: Sure he knows what $100 bills looks like. He sees them once a month in between cashing his welfare check and taking them to his meth dealer.

  25. clevershark says:

    Reminds me of a Simpsons episode…
    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.

  26. selianth says:

    @darkened: Except if they were original they would have been 1.3″ longer and 1/2″ taller than current bills.

    By the way, the photo up top is credited to Wikipedia so I don’t think they’re claiming that’s what his counterfeit bills actually looked like.

  27. Javert says:

    I think I want to party with this guy and the one who did not know he had a box knife concealed in the book in which he had cut out a secret compartment to conceal the box knife.

  28. krom says:

    The article on this particular story is misleading. A quick news search shows that these bills have been popping up all over the Arizona-Utah area and as far east as Missouri and Pennsylvania.

    To be clear, the bills have the right picture (of Franklin) *printed* on it, but the *watermark* (visible to the right of the printed image if bill is held up to light) was of Lincoln. That’s because the bills started life as real $5s, washed with bleach so the ink washes off, and then a $100 design is reprinted on top.

    This process retains features like the red/blue fibers in the paper and the “magic pen” test. But it doesn’t affect the watermark, the security thread or its color under ultraviolet light. The only way to detect the bills as fake is to put them up to the light, to see the watermark and the security thread (which will say US$5 and not US$100), or ultraviolet to see the security thread glow (which is blue on a $5 and red on a $100.) (WikiHow: How to detect counterfeit money)

    News stories about this can be found at Deseret News, WJAC, and Altoona News-Leader.

    As for the $100 silver certificate on the Consumerist article, that was a confusing artistic decision of the Consumerist editor and is not a picture of the bills the counterfeiter tried to pass.

  29. clevershark says:

    @krom: “The only way to detect the bills as fake is to put them up to the light, to see the watermark and the security thread… or ultraviolet to see the security thread glow”

    Or you could notice that a guy who looks like a strung-out meth-head is trying to buy stuff in your store using only $100 bills.

  30. Ariah says:

    @Javert: I wish you had commented earlier, since your comment is the one worth reading.

  31. hi says:

    @clevershark: not to mention the $100 bills stuffed in the armpits. But thanks for explaining KROM as this was quite confusing at first.

  32. kris in seattle says:

    @ekthesy: See, the “One Hundred Dollars” looked like a really bad Photoshop. I was a bit confused.

  33. Uhm, quick question. What’s the moral of the story for consumeristas everywhere?

    Don’t pass counterfeit bills?
    Tasers and Crystal Meth don’t mix?

    I’m unclear.

  34. maevro says:

    He was up all night, and got very creative. I can relate 1000% Back in my younger days, I would get loaded, stay up all night and do a lot of illegal things on the computer. Thats when I was at my creative best, sadly.

    Not every person who uses meth is an addict. Try and keep this in mind.

  35. cmdr.sass says:

    @PotKettleBlack: Perhaps there is no moral to this story. It’s just a bunch of stuff that happened.

  36. Kromax44 says:

    “Don’t tase me, bro.”

  37. m4ximusprim3 says:

    @PotKettleBlack: I’m with Sass. If you’re looking for a moral here, you’re going to be sadly disappointed :)

    I came away with a newfound respect for tasers. Meth heads aren’t easy to incapicitate.

  38. cde says:

    @huadpe: We’re both wrong. Wiki says its a United States Note, a reprint/new series copy of the 1869 US Note that was accidentally printed as a Treasury Note.

    So no gold or silver backing.

  39. P41 says:

    Yeah KROM, thanks for the extra info, since it’s a little hard to believe that a methhead could make otherwise realistic bills or bleach and reprint a bill. So obviously this guy is with distribution of the fakes and feds want to know who supplied the bills. Wow on the retailer catching the fakes though, double wow on stopping to explain the bill is a sophisticated forgery.

  40. Amelia Subverxin says:

    I came across one of these counterfeit $100 bills about three years ago. It looks just like a $100. It fooled one of my cashiers, but when I was counting registers that night, I noticed that this particular bill has a strange texture to it, and holding it up to the light showed the security thread with the number 5. My bank at the time told me that they’d seen a couple of these popping up, and because it’s actually a $5, it passes two of their three tests to detect counterfeits.

  41. cde says:

    @P41: Bleaching and reprinting isn’t that hard. You take bill + bleach. Then you take printer+bill.

    The hard part is changing the stripe color/location/wording and the hologram.

  42. foxbat2500 says:

    Don’t taze me bro!

  43. pigeonpenelope says:

    @Javert: you just made my day! that was quite clever!

    so meth-head is quite a dumbass. methinks he didn’t know they were fake either. i’ll bet he sold meth and received counterfeit money for them.

  44. pigeonpenelope says:

    @PotKettleBlack: humour. this whole thing isn’t about telling consumerists anything of value. it’s simply a funny story.

  45. MrEvil says:

    I bet this guy is going to be brought up on federal charges. There’s only two crimes mentioned in the Constitution, treason and counterfeiting federal currency.

    I don’t think this guy’s counterfeits were all that great either. Probably were printed on a laser or inkjet printer. US currency is printed on Intaglia presses that put the ink on the paper rather than pressing it into the paper. Then there’s the watermark problem, the water mark is put in the paper at the paper mill.

  46. geolojoines says:

    Sometimes you can tell what kind of neighborhood you are in if they pull out a marker and write on your $20 bill or not.  I like it when they give me the suspicious eye on top of it. What, do they think I don’t test them all at home before going out?  Duh.

  47. forgottenpassword says:

    You have to be a moron these days to attempt to pass off a fake 100 dollar bill (unless it is one of those perfectly faked 100s that have been coming out of N. Korea). Just about EVERY retailer would check to see if its counterfeit. How many people pay with 100 dollar bills? Not many!

    if you are going to pass off counterfiet bills your best bet is to NOT do it with a big or small retailer. Buy something with it from an individual or a VERY small business operation (like the girl scouts selling cookies at the entrance of a walmart…. I saw a recent newsstory about someone that did just that!). Or go buy drugs with it! lol.

  48. CPC24 says:

    I used to work in retail. Some of the bleached $5 bills printed as $100 showed up once or twice.

  49. Buran says:

    @cde: I wonder if they’re still legal tender.

    We have some old silver $1 notes sitting around somewhere. Not a lot, but Grandma was one of the stereotypical Depression moneyhoarders so we occasionally find interesting stuff.

    Now if only Mom hadn’t spent all those silver dimes despite my repeatedly telling her not to, when we found the tin. Apparently their different look didn’t sink in. Oh well…

  50. this is actually pretty damn common … i caught several of them at a cafe i managed. they’re basically washing/bleaching down $5’s until they’re almost white and then reprinting them.

    when you first touch them, you notice somethings off (they’re a bit too stiff from the starch used when washing) so you use the pen on them and they come up fine (since it’s an actual bill on the proper paper). i didn’t trust the guy as he had tried to steal a customers purse the week prior so i held it to the light and saw honest abe.

    that year, at least a dozen other folks came through with them and, it seems, they were working with a few others who would hit neighboring businesses simultaneously so that no one had a chance to warn everyone else.

  51. cde says:

    @OriginalGabriel: Actually, the counterfeit pen works by testing for starch. Regular paper is made using starch in the process, bills are not. Place a bill in the wash with starch and it will fail the test.

  52. cde says:

    @forgottenpassword: Big box electronic stores.

    @forgottenpassword: Buy drugs with a fake, get stabbed. Buy cookies with a fake, get karmic diarrhea (And a moral stain on your soul -_- )

    @Buran: They are worth the paper they are printed on. 1 dollar = 1 dollar, according to the Treasury faq. But a collector might pay more, say 5 dollars. You can’t redeem them for silver anymore though.

  53. cde says:

    @OriginalGabriel: from HowStuffWorks:

    //The counterfeit detector pen is extremely simple. It contains an iodine solution that reacts with the starch in wood-based paper to create a black stain. When the solution is applied to the fiber-based paper used in real bills, no discoloration occurs. The pen does nothing but detect bills printed on normal copier paper instead of the fine papers used by the U.S. Treasury.//

  54. backbroken says:

    Considering this guy swallowed a bag of meth, I conjecture that his counterfeiting skills consisted of crossing out the 5 on a $5 and writing 100 next to it.

  55. Charlotte Rae's Web says:

    Hey maybe he just had this on:

  56. 46and2 says:

    @maevro: sounds like addict rasoning