I received in the mail some promotional material from a bank looking for my business. They included a $1 million bill. It looked pretty good (the bill, not the bank promo) so I framed it and showed it to the grandchildren who now think I am a millionaire. Of course, I never bothered to tell them that a bank note of $1 million has never existed. In fact, in the history of this country, there has only been a note at face value of $100,000 with President Woodrow Wilson's face on it. It was printed in the years 1929 and 1934.

Now, I bring this all up because I just read a fascinating story in Pravda. Yes, I said Pravda, the Russian newspaper. And in case you were wondering, Pravda means "Truth," although from some of the pieces about life in the U.S., I question whether that word is really reflective of journalistic integrity.

In any event, the article told the story of an Armenian citizen and a Russian citizen who tried to sell a fake $1 million note to an Uzbekistan citizen. These counterfeiters were willing to let it go at the bargain basement rate of only $500,000. The fake note was very well done. So, what gave it all away? Just that. The face value of the note.

Keep in mind that many criminals will produce fake notes of non-existent values in order to sell them for an understated price or to use them as a credit insurance. Interestingly enough, in this instance, an American made the fake notes and recently, authorities in Rome confiscated 250 fake bank notes at a face value of $1 billion each. The notes were dated in 1934 and President Grover Cleveland was portrayed on them.

Actually, a similar case took place out in Idaho where the police arrested a man who had tried to deposit almost $1 billion in bank notes of a face value of $1 million each. He had 999 fake notes and hoped to get a credit in the bank by mortgaging the money. Admittedly, not too swift. One million dollar and even $1 billion bank notes have never existed here.

Fake notes have always floated all around the world. In Germany, there were 300, 600, and 1000 euros found. They had naked women on some and naked men on others. The emblem of the EU was made from stars turned into a ring of hearts and the inscription "Euro" was changed to "Eros." And, best of all, criminals easily passed them.

Pravda also reports that in Belarus, a group of women-swindlers tried to persuade the pensioners from small villages to exchange their money for the new currency of the allied state of Russia and Belarus called "babki". The new "babki" were very similar to the Russian rubles. On one of the sides, as it should be, there was Peter I, while on the other side there was a portrait of Lenin with his slogan "Study, Study, and Study." In the upper part of the note there was an inscription: "The Bank Note of the Concrete Bank." Other bank notes had a portrait of Gorbachev on them.

Fake money has been found all over the place. So, the usual proclamation is apparent. If it seems too good to be true, then chances are it is not true.

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