This morning I stopped by my neighborhood bank to deposit some cash that I figured didn’t have to be sitting around our house. The teller greeted me cheerfully, and started counting the cash. Then a pause. She recounted, stopping at one particular bill. A frown. She stuck the bill under the purplish light that checks for bad bills. Then she showed it to the teller in the next chair. Nope, don’t think that’s a good bill, she said. Both women held it up to the light and squinted at it. People were beginning to accumulate in the line behind me.
The teller asked me to look at the bill in question. Oh my, it certainly was off-center, as if it had been through a bad print job. She said they couldn’t accept the bill because it appeared to be fraudulent. About that time a third employee, I think the manager, walked by, took a look at the bill, and concurred with the two tellers. Wow, I said, I never noticed how off that bill looked. Honestly, I’m not manufacturing fake money in my basement (attempting to add a little humor). To which she replied, no I don’t think that, don’t worry, this just happens sometimes.
Then the teller had me initial the bill in one corner, and put her initials next to mine. I noticed a notebook on the counter behind her labeled “fraud book”. I said, well I guess this is going in your fraud book. No, she replied, this is going to the FBI. No kidding, I said. Hey, can I snap a picture of the bill before you send it off? She was staring at her computer screen, and didn’t say anything. I took that to be consent, or at least that she really didn’t care what I did, so I snapped a quick shot of the bill on the counter (see photo above).
As the teller typed on her computer, I asked if she was adding some notation to my account. No, she said, she was getting it ready for the FBI. Then she asked to see my ID again. She’d already seen, but she needed to see it again. Next it was my telephone number. At that point I started getting a little freaked out. Is the FBI going to call me? No, the teller answered, they turn it over to the Secret Service. The Secret Service – really? Do you have any idea where the bill came from? No, I do not, as it’s been sitting around my house for who knows how long. She said that’s what she figured – most people have no idea.
I left the bank feeling totally paranoid – like the FBI would be watching my bank account, monitoring my phone calls, looking at the bank video footage, etc. But hey, we’re already under constant surveillance. Everything is recorded, stored on servers, and preserved for future reference. It’s “1984” and so much more…