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How to Identify Prop Money

$1,000,000 (Image: PropMoney)

It’s not hard to believe that people out there are willing to maliciously use fake money as a means of payment for goods and services. They are willing to scam others to get the items they want without having to cough up their own paychecks. In the end, it is not only hurting the store owners, but the banks, and the economy, including you.

Now that it is easier than ever to buy prop money, people have the means to get these counterfeit bills quickly and cheaply. They will then use them in stores, self check-out lines, and even in face-to-face sales.

Unfortunately, it becomes a catch 22 for the prop money companies that produce these fake bills. They want to make realistic-looking cash that will film perfectly for the movies but they also have to consider the consequences if the money looks too good and is used with criminal intent.

Although it may not be easy, the Secret Service and prop money companies have devised a plan that will aid in halting counterfeit cash making its way to the local economies but does make it much harder for this to happen. These rules give cashiers, bank tellers, and anyone else who receives these bills a good idea of what to look for when attempting to identify a prop bill.

5 Ways to Identify Prop Movie Money

Specific rules were given to prop companies to follow when creating their products. These rules were designed and are enforced by the Secret Service of the United States Government. These guidelines help keep fake bills from getting used like real cash and criminals getting away with theft.


The first thing to look for when you are deciding if a bill is fake is the size of the cash. The bill will either be more than 1 ½ the size of a real dollar or ¾  of the size less,  As long as it was manufactured lawfully,

In order to determine this, you can simply hold it up to another bill discreetly to see if it’s a match or not. All government-created cash is going to be the exact same size, so if you receive a bill that doesn’t fit it, it’s safe to assume it is a fake.


The color of motion picture use only money cannot match spot on to the colors used in real currency. This is a federal offense and is not allowed per government laws. Although it may be difficult to notice the subtle changes, they are there.

It is also important to note that prop money is created to film well on camera, so the colors are going to be designed in a way that will look best on screens and for specific lighting.

Another interesting fact about the ink on real cash is that on the legit $100 bill, there is color-shifting ink underneath the “$100” that won’t be available on movie money. It is also worth noting that the ink on real money will be raised just a tiny bit, and you can actually feel this with the tips of your fingers. That is not something you could feel on a fake dollar.


No prop money will be designed the same exact way as real government-issued currency. If you scan the bill, you could notice changes in phrases, the incorrect president on the bill, or the buildings may be different.

You can also tell that money is fake because the watermark will be missing, and most of the time, these companies will leave that spot blank. Also, the security thread that is found in the legal money will not be visible in prop movie money

It Will Tell You

You will notice on prop movie money the phrase “not for legal tender” or something similar. It may even just be the companies name written across the top somewhere. Not all prop companies will make this extremely noticeable (for understandable reasons), but they are there. If you ever feel the money may be falsified, take the time to look it over.

How it Feels

Real currency is made out of a fabric type material, so it doesn’t tear easily and can withstand being passed around often. Almost all cheap fake money is made out of regular paper and will feel a lot more crisp and smooth than real money. Plus, it will be easy to rip, and you will be able to differentiate the tearing.

Summing Things Up

As technology gets better and access to prop money gets easier, slipping counterfeit cash into the system is becoming much easier for criminals to get away with. Teaching yourself how to identify these fake bills by educating yourself in how the real one should look, is a great way to do your part in keeping this influx of cash fraud at bay.



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