Fake denominations of United States currency

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A fake $3 bill distributed by LGBT activists as a "Queer Dollar" for use in protesting policies of the Salvation Army, referencing the simile "queer as a three dollar bill"

Fake denominations of United States currency is faux "currency" which makes no assertion of being legal tender created by individuals as promotions, practical jokes, or social statements. It is legal to print so long as it makes no assertion, whether by appearance or statement, of authenticity.[citation needed]

"Fake money" is not to be confused with counterfeit currency or conflated with legitimate currency that has been demonetized.

Nixon Penny[edit]

These copper coins were about one-quarter the size of a regular U.S. cent and depicted President Richard M. Nixon on the obverse. The reverse showed the Watergate Hotel. They were issued as novelty items and as political commentary on inflation that occurred under President Nixon.[1] Other types of coins have been similarly miniaturized before and since as souvenirs or collectors' items.


Although various US states printed $3 bills before the unification of the currency, no US$3 bills have ever been printed. However, various fake US$3 bills have been released over time, generally poking fun at politicians or celebrities such as Richard Nixon, Michael Jackson, George W. Bush, both Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama in reference to the idiomatic expression "queer as a three-dollar bill" or "phony as a three-dollar bill". In the 1960s, Mad printed a $3 bill that featured a portrait of Alfred E. Neuman and read: "This is not legal tender—nor will tenderizer help it." Mad writer Frank Jacobs said that the magazine ran afoul of the US Secret Service because the $3 bill was accepted by change machines at casinos.[2] In the first decade of the 21st century, gay rights groups encouraged supporters to print obviously-fake $3 bills, called "Queer Dollars", and place the fake bills in Salvation Army donation buckets as a protest against that organization's alleged policy against gay rights.[3][4]


For the song by Whitney Houston, see Million Dollar Bill.

The United States has never issued a million dollar bill.[5] However, many businesses print million dollar bills for sale as novelties. Such bills do not assert that they are legal tender. The Secret Service has declared them legal to print or own and does not consider them counterfeit.[6]

Some have attempted to fraudulently pass or otherwise use these novelty bills as though they were real currency, usually resulting in arrest.


In March 2006, agents from ICE and the Secret Service seized 250 notes, each bearing a denomination of $1,000,000,000 (one billion dollars) from a West Hollywood apartment.[7] The suspect had previously been arrested on federal charges for attempting to smuggle more than $37,000 in currency into the U.S. following a trip to South Korea in 2002.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://coinquest.com/cgi-bin/cq/coins?main_coin=14728
  2. ^ The MAD World of William M. Gaines, by Frank Jacobs, 1972; Lyle Stuart
  3. ^ George Ochoa and Melinda Corey (2005), The 100 Best Trends: Emerging Developments You Can't Afford to Ignore, F+W Media, Inc. Page 105.
  4. ^ Protest Salvation Army's Discrimination Against Gays With Queer Dollars, website accessed September 12, 2011
  5. ^ Woman says she thought $1 million bill was real, AP, via MSNBC.com, March 11, 2004.
  6. ^ "Currency Denominations FAQs". U.S. Department of the Treasury. 2014-07-08. Retrieved 2015-03-10. 
  7. ^ "Homeland Security Agents Seize "Billion Dollar" Bogus Federal Reserve Notes". Communitydispatch.com. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 

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