The Secret Service wants moviemakers to return bogus money that looks so genuine people are spending it.
Bills with phony face values totaling about $1 billion were blown up during recent filming of the action movie "Rush Hour 2" in Las Vegas. Some of the bills fluttered into the hands of people who later went to businesses and spent them, authorities said.
"The product they were producing was just too close to genuine," said Assistant Special Agent Chuck Ortman. "Notes were successfully passed."
The Secret Service ordered Sun Valley-based Independent Studio Services Inc. to stop making the fake money and sent a recall letter to every movie production company that ordered the prop cash for use on-screen.
"It's unfortunate," said owner Gregg H. Bilson Jr. "This is yet another reason for people to say, 'Well, we're going to take our production to Canada.' "
Ortman said 19 of Bilson's bills have been passed in the Las Vegas and Los Angeles areas, and an attempt was reported in Minneapolis.
The seized bills are the same size as real money, but federal law requires reproductions to be at least 75 percent smaller or 150 percent larger than genuine bills.
But oddly sized bills look like "play money" on the screen, said Pam Elyea, co-owner of the North Hollywood prop house History for Hire.
"The props our businesses rent out are more realistic-looking than they used to be," Elyea said. "But the more realistic they look, be it fake money or weapons, the easier it is for the general public to be confused with the real thing and the more problems that it poses."