Another case of using prop ‘money’ made for movies surfaces in Wake County

Lenwood Arnold Jr.
Lenwood Arnold Jr. CCBI

Using prop “money,” made for movies and television, to buy real items has led to a second arrest in Wake County this month.

Monday, Holly Springs police arrested 30-year-old Lenwood Arnold Jr. at his Turner Drive home on charges contained in a warrant that Fuquay-Varina police had obtained last week.

The warrant accuses Arnold of using $380 of the so-called “movie money” in buying a $500 gift card at a Food Lion store on North Main Street in December.

Included in the purchase were a prop $100 bill and 14 prop $20 bills, police said. It was not clear what made up the rest of the price of the gift card.

Turner was charged with possession of five or more counterfeit instruments, obtaining property by false pretense and conspiring with another man, Trayvon Shiheem Mangum, in the purchase.

Mangum has not been arrested in the case. Arnold was being held on $25,000 bail.

The prop money is a slightly different size than real money and carries language saying “For Motion Picture Use Only – usually where real money would say “United States of America.” Where the seals of the Federal Reserve System and the U.S. Department of the Treasury are on real currency, prop money has other, made-up seals. It also has serial numbers that could not match real money.

The currency also is not printed on the special paper that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing uses to make real U.S. bills.

On Jan. 8, Raleigh police charged Kristopher Sterling Rosser Stallings, 22, of Raleigh with using the fake money to swindle a woman who was selling a gaming system and met Stallings in a Walmart parking lot to complete the transaction last September.

Movie money has appeared in several cities around the country in recent years, sometimes where authorities suspect that movie or video extras pocketed some of the bills before they could all be collected from a set.

Prop manufacturers make the money in two-sided versions for use in scenes where actors have money in their hands and may be counting it or fanning it.

There also are one-sided versions intended for use when a scene calls for blocks of bills in bags or suitcases or stacked on pallets.

The government has regulations that say “money” printed to look like U.S. currency has to be certain percentages smaller or larger than the real thing, but the prop money is intended only to look enough like money to fool viewers.

It is made in other countries’ currencies, too.

Ron Gallagher: 919-829-4572, @RPGKT