WESTERLY — The police have confiscated 34 bills of "movie prop money," including three that were presented for deposit at the Westerly Community Credit Union.
Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey said the $100 bills had small Chinese markings on one side and were turned over to officers after separate incidents about an hour and a half apart on Tuesday.
"All counterfeit money is documented as evidence and turned over to the Secret Service to be destroyed," Lacey said. "In this case, it seemed pretty clear to officers that the money did not feel real. It may not have been originally designed for counterfeit purposes."
According to police records, 31 bills were found beneath a mattress in a vacant apartment at 102 Oak St. The police said a landlord called around 2:15 p.m. to report that he had found the money and wished to turn it over to the department.
At 3:45 p.m., the department received a report of a man trying to deposit three counterfeit $100 bills at the WCCU on Granite Street. According to the police, the man entered the bank with the fake $100s and a legitimate $50 bill.
The teller told the man that the money was fake and that she would contact the police. He agreed to wait and to deposit only the $50 bill, a police report said.
When police spoke with the man, Lacey said, he claimed to have received the money from the Oak Street landlord who had earlier turned in the bills. Those bills were sequential in numbering to the ones presented to the teller.
Lacey said the police also learned that the money can actually be ordered online and noted that possession alone does not violate the law. Offering it as legal tender, however, is a criminal violation, he said.
"It's not illegal to have 'movie money.' People use it all the time in place of real cash in videos and performances," he said. "When that money is presented to a business, however, it can lead to losses and is considered an intent to defraud."
No arrests were made on Tuesday, Lacey said. The investigation is ongoing.
On Aug. 4, a man tried to use a counterfeit $100 bill to pay for a beer at a bar on Industrial Avenue. The man, Daniel L. Hardison, 29, of 57 John St., was arrested on Sunday and charged with passing a counterfeit note. Lacey said it was unclear whether that incident and the new discovery were related.