Customs seizes $4.65M in fake $100 bills at airport

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

A Vietnamese couple’s inability to keep its story straight resulted in U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents seizing $4.65 million in funny money from the travelers at Detroit Metro Airport on Friday, the agency said in a release Wednesday.

“The couple attempted to import the counterfeit U.S. $100 bills and Vietnamese Dong into the United States to be offered as burnt-offerings to the deceased, as often practiced in certain Asian cultures,” the release explained.

Customs encountered the couple on Friday when they arrived at Metro Airport from South Korea. When the couple made conflicting statements about how much money they were carrying in excess of $10,000, their luggage was examined.

“A secondary search of their luggage resulted in the discovery of 93 bundles of counterfeit U.S. $100 bills and 32 bundles of counterfeit Vietnamese Dong,” the statement said.

It was not immediately known how much money the counterfeit Dong came out to, said Customs spokesman Ken Hammond.

The U.S. Secret Service, which is sworn to fight the counterfeiting of American currency — in addition to the job it is best known for, protecting the president of the United States — has custody of the funny money.

“Hell money,” as it is called, is meant to resemble legal tender, and is common in the Vietnamese culture, Hammond said.

The Vietnamese couple never tried to spend the money, and was allowed to continue on their travels, Hammond said. That said, Customs did note that “the manufacturing of, and/or importation of counterfeit Federal Reserve notes could result in federal charges.”