Pine Bluffs Post - Serving all of Eastern Laramie County since 1908

Passing out counterfeit $100 bills on the Las Vegas Strip is a bad idea


A few weeks ago, we were spending some warm weather time in Las Vegas. It felt good to enjoy some 75-degree weather after enduring January’s temperatures of -29 and winter conditions like 17 inches of fresh snow in Lander.

We loaded up our 2005-vintage motorhome and rambled down Interstate 15. We stayed at a wonderful park called Las Vegas RV Resort, an RV park near a big casino called Sam’s Town.

This column is all about my apparent attempt at passing a phony $100 bill at a lunch counter at Harrah’s on the Las Vegas strip.

Lucky for me, the gal who received the bad bill examined it, held it up to the light and then marked on it with a felt tip pen. “Ah-ha,” she said. “This is phony.” Her co-worker agreed and I was appalled. I handed her another $100 bill and this time, it was real. For some reason she handed me back the phony bill and gave me my change and we were on our way.

I was stunned by the events. Where did I get this phony bill? These new $100 bills all look phony, frankly, but this one had a very faded look to it. And it had other ink on it so it had been rejected before at some place, some time.

The reason we were at Harrah’s was to buy tickets to see The Righteous Brothers, a musical duo that 50 years ago popularized what Nancy and I consider to be our song: Unchained Melody.

This concert was going to be a special treat for us. After buying our tickets, we had a quick lunch and that was when the errant bill-passing attempt occurred. What a strange series of events.

For the past several years, I have been trying to wean myself from credit card use and writing so many personal checks. No, that is not a giant wad of cash in my pocket, but I do carry several hundred dollars around with me and try to pay with cash as often as possible. You really cannot buy gasoline with cash but I have paid for a lot of groceries and dinner tabs with cash. Not sure what my point is, but this sort of explains how I got myself into this predicament.

When I knew we would be going to Las Vegas, I went to my local bank and got plenty of cash, which I stashed in a safe place. I know this bogus bill did not come from them. But where did it come from?

On another front, Nancy and I have been trying to downsize. In the last year, we sold three snowmobiles, a pickup truck, two trailers, a tow-behind lawn mower and one quad-runner. In some of these cases, the buyers apparently gave me cash. This is where I think my bogus bill came from.

Wyoming occasionally has problems with bogus (counterfeit) 100-dollar bills. I talked with Kendall Hayford of Wyoming Community Bank, Lander; Mark Zaback at Jonah Bank, Casper; John Coyne III of Big Horn Federal in Greybull; Mathew Kukowski of Platte Valley Bank of Wheatland; and Steve Liebzeit of First Interstate Bank of Lander about bogus bills in Wyoming.

Although not an epidemic, they see bogus bills occasionally. They said merchants do a good job of detecting the false bills. They had seen both bogus 100-dollar and 20-dollar bills being passed.

But there is more to my story.

The TV newscasters in Las Vegas were going crazy with a story that ultimately went national about bogus $100 bills. Seems some guy bought a whole bunch of Girl Scout cookies and paid for them with a bogus 100-dollar bill. Who would cheat the Girl Scouts?

Had my sweet tooth been acting up, that could have been me.

Then it occurred to me that perhaps the security people at Harrah’s were looking for me. These places have cameras everywhere. What if someone really thought the Girl Scout culprit was me?

I quickly wrote an email to the Las Vegas Police explaining that, no, I was not the bad guy who had cheated the Girl Scouts. But I was the guy who attempted to pass a bogus $100 bill at Harrah’s, just in case it had been reported and they were looking for me.

So far, no word from the police. But I am keeping a closer eye on the quality of my cash from now on.

Just thought I would pass along this cautionary tale.


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