Your $1 Million Bills Are No Good At Walmart, Or Anywhere Else

If you happen to have a $1 million bill handy, you’ll probably want to limit its use to wall display or gags. Trying to use the obviously counterfeit piece of paper to buy stuff will probably get you in trouble with authorities.

According to the AP, police say a 53-year-old North Carolina man whipped out a $1 million bill at Walmart to buy a vacuum, microwave and other stuff totaling $476 at Walmart. When his transaction was denied, the man allegedly insisted it was real, leading to his arrest on suspicion of attempting to obtain property by false pretense, as well as uttering a forged instrument.

For the record, there are no bills in circulation bigger than $100.

Cops: Man tried to use $1M bill at North Carolina Walmart [AP via Boston Herald]


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  1. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    Phew! It’s a good thing that cashier had a bill tester pen handy!

  2. Nick says:

    Put his change on a gift card.

  3. dakeypoo says:

    So if I had a Grover Cleveland $1000 bill, would it still be valid today?

    • BugBlatterBeast says:

      Only if you’ll accept my Confederate money as payment.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        One is considered legal tender, the other is not.

      • Difdi says:

        Certainly, if you can find an agency of that government to accept it, I do believe you can get full face value for it. Of course, since the US government has no responsibility to honor foreign currency, you can’t expect the US government to accept it as legal tender.

    • Jim M says:

      Yup It’s still real money.

      • dakeypoo says:

        Well then there are still bills in “circulation” greater than the $100 bill.

        • kenj0418 says:

          Yes, in much the same way that a dead body that still has blood in it has “circulation”.

          The bills are worth much more to collectors than their face value – so they no longer circulate as currency. So, yes once you convinced your bank that your bill was genuine, you could probably deposit it. They would then be convinced you were not a counterfeiter, but an idiot who just wasted several times the value of what they just deposited. (I just Googled and found a story from 2008 of some lady doing this not realizing it – the teller helpfully told her she was better off selling them than depositing them)

        • Costner says:

          Nope. If that bill hit the treasury it would be removed and not reintroduced into circulation. Therefore at best it can hope for a one way trip… which is sort of anti-circulation.

          Of course since $1,000 bill is worth approximately twice the face value to collectors, anyone who spends one would be a moron – and anyone who receives them would most likely not continue to let it flow up through the system because they would know the true value.

    • Difdi says:

      Yup. If someone had (for example) a $20 Saint-Gaudens gold double eagle, they could indeed spend it for face value ($20) or deposit it at a bank for the same amount. They’d be idiots, since that particular coin sells for upwards of $10,000 but they could do it.

      Most out-of-circulation US currency could be spent or deposited, but generally are worth more than face value to collectors.

    • Tangurena says:

      That $1k bill would be worth more to collectors than the $1,000 face value. However, many cashiers have no clue what the $500, $1000, $5000 and $10,000 bills look like (hint – they have pictures of dead white guys on them, Salmon P Chase, who is on the $10k bill was never a President). Many cashiers won’t even take $2 bills, which is a funny story in itself.

  4. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Maybe he was just really, really dumb….

  5. maruawe says:

    I believe that at one time the government made a million dollar bill, I seem to remember hearing something about it ….. I know that they made a $1000.00 dollar bill . I saw one in a collection of
    rare money

    • spf1971 says:

      That was an episode on the Simpsons.

    • KyBash says:

      I also thought there was a million dollar bill, but it was used only by government agencies to simplify their cash transfers. I’ve just Googled it and found it’s $100,000 bills that I was thinking of.

  6. bendee says:

    They aren’t stopping you for a Trillion dollar bill? Excellent.

  7. petey says:

    I thought Mitt Romney was in Iowa….

  8. SporadicBlah says:

    You can make all your bills test as counterfeit just by spraying them with laundry starch. (Not that it would make any sense to do that)

    • CanadianDominic says:

      “I ruin my money at home” ? :P

    • RvLeshrac says:

      James Randi regularly used to (or perhaps still does) send his secretary to the bank to withdraw a large amount of cash in $10s and $20s, spread it on his desk, spray it with starch, then re-deposit it.

      The goal is to prove to people that those “counterfeit detection pens” are complete bullshit, so people will hopefully start using the *real* security features embedded in our bills.

  9. notovny says:

    Clearly, he did not think this through. At my local Wal-Mart, they only keep $250,000 in bills in each register.

  10. Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

    I saw what you did there… ;)

  11. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    (HA-HA /nelson) (just tried to post this on the *other* million-dollar-bill story and got an error message…because it was deleted by the time I hit the Submit button)

    FWIW, I have seen $1M in the largest possible denomination you could use for it first hand.

    I don’t know if it’s still on display, but Binion’s Horseshoe in Las Vegas used to have a big glass display case showing 100 $10k bills. A million bucks in cash. Just to taunt everyone who walked by.

  12. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    “For the record, there are no bills in circulation bigger than $100.”

    What you mean to say is that there are no bills *in production* bigger than $100. Any bills still outstanding, in the hands of private citizens, are still “in circulation.” So presuming that somebody still has $1k or $10k bills in their posession, as opposed to having deposited them in a bank, then they’re still “in circulation.”

    • thomwithanh says:

      Understanding is that they must be exchanged with the treasury (either directly or through your bank) to convert them into anything usable.

      • KyBash says:

        About three years ago, a cousin of mine received $24,000 in $500 bills as part of an inheritance. No special value was placed on them as collector’s items.

        • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

          You know how minted gold and silver coins have a denomination on them, making them legal tender for face value? But they have a true metal value many many times more? Like Gold American Eagles being worth more than $1600 yet have a face value of $50?

          There’s a theory I’ve heard of that rich folks do commerce amongst themselves in bullion so they can claim income based on face value and not metal value. I don’t know if it’s urban rumor territory, but it’s kind of interesting to think about.

  13. GoldVRod says:

    There’s an artist that goes around to restaurants etc and pays with ‘forged’ money that he draws and then his fan(s) – think he only has one – goes out to buy the fake bill off the restaurateur.

    Hang on… I think that’s him.

    Surely this is close to ‘art’, like the guy who got off a forgery charge with the GW Bush bill because it’s clear to any intelligent person that the bill could NOT be real.


    • Difdi says:

      And as soon as someone complains to the US Treasury Department about him, he’ll be going to federal prison as a counterfeiter.

      It simply doesn’t matter whether the fake money is obviously fake. The crime lies in the act of attempting to pay with fake money as if it were real.

      • DrLumen says:

        There is nothing in the law that says you can’t print your own currency but you can’t pass it off as ‘legal tender’. It’s between you and whomever if the two of you want to work out a deal. I would point to coupons as proof of an adhoc type of currency. If you can get your dry cleaner to accept a coupon for pizza, that could be considered currency – and coupons are printed and distributed every day. Postage stamps would be another type of currency but stamps actually do have some intrinsic value.

  14. PsychoRaven says:

    What a moron. Anyone with a braincell in their head knows there isn’t any such thing as a million dollar bill.

  15. thomwithanh says:

    It amazes me that people actually try to use these and those $3 bills with George Bush on them for that matter. No wonder the Secret Service gets called when a guy uses a $2 bill at Taco Bell.

  16. PortlandBeavers says:

    They made bills in denominations of $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000, and those bills could still be spent at their face values today. However, they haven’t made them in 70 years are so, and surviving ones are considered collector’s items worth more than their face value to collectors. Yeah, it’s a rich man’s hobby. So as a practical matter, no intelligent person would spend them.

    There was also an instrument with a value of $100,000, but it never circulated. It was meant for transfers between government agencies. I believe that cancelled versions of this item still exist, but those can’t be spent.

    • SpecK says:

      You sure? I have a couple $500 bills I collected from a will….took them to a paper and coin store and he said $500 each. They went back in my pocket and now reside in my safe…

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Yeah, I can’t imagine that such currency is worth anything more than face value.

        • hahatanka says:

          Saw a $500 in a pawn shop window for $750.
          There was a case in St Louis a few years ago. Guy had a $1000 in his billfold when arrested. Police gave him back 1o $100’s. Judge was not amused at police when lawyer sued for his client.

        • Costner says:

          It is – because they are rare. At a recent trip to a rare coin store, a $1,000 note was selling at about twice face value. The thing is once these bills are put into circulation, the banks send them to the treasury and they are removed… it is a one way trip so there is no true “circulation” of the bills. Because of this, the bills are very rare and therefore more valuable to collectors.

          I don’t really find it all that odd. People spend $2,000 on all sorts of stupid collectables most of which lose money in the end, yet with something like currency chances are the bill will continue to gain value year after year.

          Either way I’d rather have a $1,000 bill that I paid $2,000 for than a pile of Beanie Babies I spent $5,000 on and are now only worth $50.

    • kbsparky says:

      The $100,000 bill is actually a Gold Note, with Woodrow Wilson depicted on the face.

      You can view a picture of it here.

  17. kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

    “He is in jail on a $17,500 bond”

    Wonder if he tried to pay this with the $1 million bill?

    I’ve actually heard of people using trying to use counterfeit bills (albeit generally lower denomination).

    • SpecK says:

      well its hard to imagine someone making the paper if they werent going to try and use it

    • Fantoche_de_Chaussette says:

      $17,500 bond means he’s going to have to pay a bail bondsman a non-refundable $1,750 fee to get out of jail. Or spend the next several weeks/months in pre-trial confinement.

      The US “justice” system is the very best that money can buy.

  18. hahatanka says:

    Good thing he didn’t use a $2

  19. nocturnaljames says:

    We’ll have $1million bills eventually, just give inflation a chance it’s coming along.

  20. profauck says:

    Did he really believe Wal-Mart was going to have $999,524 around for change? That’s a lot of bags to get past the receipt checker.