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Comment from E-mail:
Reading through the letters section, I saw a reference to a secret service interrogation, but nowhere else on your site could I find a description of the incident. Would you mind relating it again (or giving me a pointer to where the story resides)

About 3 years ago I took my daughter, Sara, to Las Vegas for a gymnastics regional that she was in. During the lengthy warmups my wife and I walked down to the Hard Rock Casino and played slot machines. While generously feeding these machines I tipped the waitress a couple of $2 bills. Waitresses in casinos and other places often exclaim at how much they like getting these and how their kids love them. I have tons of $2 bill stories that will make a whole chapter in my book someday. My $2 bills are real and legit but unusual.

A short while later a casino security manager sat down next to me. He was very quiet and showed no emotion about anything. He was 30-ish and acted like a dedicated security man who knew everything about every type of cash situation ever. This man asked me where I'd gotten the bills and I started a little BS about buying them from a guy that hawked basketball tickets. I sometimes say this to peak the interest in people that wonder if these bills are real or not. I said that I thought the bills were good and acted like I didn't know what was going on, just enough to seem evasive. This man told me that they had tested the bills with their testing pen and that the bills were good.

Then he calmly said that they don't make them like this. I sat for a long time silent and he repeated his statement. I said "you mean, on sheets?" These two $2 bills were attached to each other and perforated. You can purchase $1, $2, and now $5 bills from the Bureau of Printing and Engraving on sheets. The sheets come in sizes of 4, 16, and 32 bills each. I buy such sheets of $2 bills. I carry large sheets, folded in my pocket, and sometimes pull out scissors and cut a few off to pay for something in a store. It's just for comedy, as the $2 bills cost nearly $3 each when purchased on sheets. They cost even more at coin stores.

I take the sheets of 4 bills and have a printer, located through friends, gum them into pads, like stationery pads. The printer then perforates them between the bills, so that I can tear a bill or two away. The bills that I'd tipped the waitress came from such a pad.

Well, the casino security guy kept rubbing the perforation between the two bills but he still showed no emotion at all. He was strictly professional. When he said that they don't make bills like this I asked "They don't?" as though I thought it was quite normal to have sheets. My answer was also so emotionless as to confuse him about me, and to make me seem even more evasive. This, again, I do for a comedic effect. The gentleman then said "they don't make them with perforations." I again asked "they don't"", acting a little like maybe I got ripped off by the person that sold them to me. The security guy kept rubbing the perforation slowly.

Every currency bill has to have a different serial number. We all know that. But for the bills on a sheet, the serial number ends with the last digits the same, and the starting digits the same. It's harder to detect that an inner digit is changing when you look at the serial numbers on a sheet of bills.

So I next said to the casino security guy "you'd think that the serial numbers would be sequential." I normally say "the serial numbers are all the same" but I knew that he'd catch this falsehood more quickly than most people that I use it on. I also sensed a serious tone, based on his attitude, and didn't want to lie outright. Well, this emotionless guy looked slowly down at the two bills and his jaw jerked open. Even his head stayed still and no other signs of emotion showed, but his jaw jerked. I'm sure that he thought for an instant that he had captured Al Capone, counterfeiting $2 bills.

He remained motionless and expressionless for a few seconds and obviously must have discovered that the serial numbers changed in the middle. He calmly raised his head and acted as though nothing had happened, as though I hadn't 'got him', as though his composure had never been broken. But I had got a big point on him and I was quite satisfied in that. Finally the man excused himself and left. I looked at my watch and told my wife that I was heading back to the gymnastics tournamant, which was getting closer to commencing. I told my wife to come when she finished her machine, as it was doing very well right then. I was back at the gym and after perhaps half an hour, the competition began. My wife was still absent. After about one event of my daughter's I finally saw my wife arrive. She came up to where I was seated and pointed out a young, neatly dressed man. She said that he was Secret Service and wanted to talk to me. What a surprise.

Well, I figured that the Secret Service has to be quite diligent in Las Vegas and that it would be most appropriate to get my name and ID in case anything turned up wrong with the $2 bills. So I went down to see this gentleman for a few seconds. He looked around and said that we should find a place to talk. So I figured it would be a couple of minutes. Near the door he asked the gymnastics officials where we could get a quiet room and I figured that it might take 5 minutes or more. We walked down a hall and I had to go to the bathroom. But I couldn't even pee with that secret service man standing right behind me. True story.

We went into a room and the door was closed. This young Secret Service agent opened a chrome brief case on the table and pulled out a card. He said that he was going to read my my Miranda rights. Instantly I thought that I could just say "the bills are good and you know it and I'm leaving this bullshit" but then you always have the fear that they'll hold you for being uncooperative. It's hard to separate rights from reality. So I sat still and was read my Miranda rights. He pulled out forms and I thought that it was now going to take 20 minutes.

He asked my for some picture ID. I have some fake photo ID's that a friend made for me years before, when we could make realistic photo ID's from our computers. Almost nobody else could do this because printers weren't good enough. But I had an expensive early generation dye sublimation printer and made some fake ID's for fun. I had one favorite fake ID that I'd used for almost every airplane flight, domestic and international, that I'd taken for many years. It says "Laser Safety Officer" and has a photo of me with an eyepatch. It also says "Department of Defiance" in an arc, in a font that looks like "Department of Defense" to the casual glance.

As I opened my wallet, I considered whether I should risk using this fake ID on the Secret Service. It probably amounted to a real crime. I had my driver's license as well. But you only live once and only a few of us even get a chance like this once in our lives. So I handed him the fake ID. He noted and returned it. The Secret Service took an ID that said "Laser Safety Officer" with a photo of myself wearing an eyepatch.

You can begin to see why many people don't believe this story when I tell it.

Well, the interview covered my entire life history, including passport numbers and driver's license numbers and all my credit cards and my family names and the schools I attended and more. We covered each of my friends' names and phone numbers because I couldn't remember which one had gotten the $2 bills gummed and perforated for me. This 'interview' lasted 40 minutes. I missed much of my own daughter's regional gymnastics meet.

At the end of the session I wiped my brow and told the agent that I was glad it was about the $2 bills. I told him I was worried that he was after my for my 12 year old daughter winning $7500 at Keno that morning. This was the second time that I'd taken my daughter to Las Vegas. The first time was when she was 9 years old. I was taking a group of about 15 young students of mine to Ceasar's Palace in Las Vegas to attend MacAcademy, for Macintosh training. Well, upon arriving, we all sat down in the Cafe Roma for a lunch. I think about all the kids at all of our tables managed to fill in Keno cards to play. I paid for my family to play 5 games each on their tickets, including those of my 6 year old son, and 9 year old daughter. I paid $1 per play. My young son won $88 on the first ticket and was jumping like a champion. But on the third game of five, my daughter won $1600.

On the gymnastics trip, now that Sara was 12, we sat down for breakfast in the Cafe Caribbe at the Mirage. We filled out some Keno cards and I paid $5 per game. I explained to Sara that her prior $1600 win was extremely lucky and that I'd never known anyone who hit such a high percentage win or jackpot. I said that she'd probably never again see someone win so much for $1 in her life. I pointed out that when you gamble you have to assume that you're going to lose and still be happy. I pointed to the grand casino as evidence that the odds are against you. Well, as we were eating I glanced up at the Keno board and Sara had won $7500.

The downside of this is that Sara gained $7500, I lost $7500, the government gained $7500 and the casino lost $7500. You see, I had to fork out the $7500 to my daughter and collect the winnings myself. But about half the winnings would be paid by me on my taxes as income, and other half of $7500 would be paid as gift tax for giving the winnings to my daughter (I'd already transferred the maximum yearly tax free gift of $10,000 to each of my kids).


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