Fact check: False claim that police can track $100 bills using technology in blue line

·2 min read

The claim: Police have a device to track $100 bills

Can police track your movement based on the cash you're carrying?

A Facebook user shared a post on Sept. 9 that has an image of a $100 bill with the caption "psa to all the scammers ... stop getting $100 bills out of the bank. Police & state troppers (sic) have a device that tells them exactly how much money u have in ur car. ... the blue line on the $100 bill is connected to the device."

This post generated more than 6,000 shares in a week.

But this claim is false. The blue line on $100 bills is for security, not tracking. It doesn't have the technology to connect to any device used by law enforcement.

USA TODAY reached out to the social media user for comment.

Blue line is for security, not tracking

The blue line on the $100 bill is a 3D security ribbon designed to differentiate real $100 bills from fake ones, according to Teresa Fynes, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of the Treasury. If you tilt the note back and forth while focusing on the blue ribbon, the bells change to "100s" and vice versa. The ribbon is also interwoven in the bill, not printed on it.

"The 3D security ribbon has hundreds of thousands of micro lenses," Fynes said. "The micro lenses act as magnifiers for the multiple micro printed images of the bell and the numeral 100 on the thread. When the note is tilted, the images in the strip appears to be moving."

The blue strip is not connected to any GPS device or tracking device, she said, nor would it enable any GPS or tracking device.

So, of course, police officers have no device that would connect to the security strip.

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"I've been doing this 30 years and I've never heard of such a device," said Master Cpl. John T. Schultz, National Police Foundation policing fellow. "Obviously, you look at a $100 bill and check if it's fraudulent by the security features that are put on the money by the Department of Treasury. I don't have any specific device I can use to track $100 bills."

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that police have a device to track $100 bills. The Treasury Department hasn't included technology to allow tracking, and police have no device that could connect to the bills.

Our fact-check sources:

  • Teresa Fynes, Sept. 14, email exchange with USA TODAY

  • U.S. Currency Education Program, accessed Sept. 14, $100 bill features

  • John Schultz, Sept. 14, phone interview with USA TODAY

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Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: False claim that police have a device to track $100 bills

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