The man who tried to cash a $360 billion cheque

The man who tried to cash a $360 billion cheque

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logo-lexisnexisThis post was created in collaboration with writers at Lexis Nexis

There have been plenty of foolish criminals and stupid crimes in the last few years that  have really made us shake our heads and wonder why. For example, there was Anthony Lescowitch of Pennsylvania who “liked” a wanted photo of himself on the Facebook page of his local police and was lured into capture 45 minutes later, or Harold Wayne Hadley Jr. who was arrested at his junior college for making a joke about “passing a bomb” in the library. It wasn’t a bomb threat, he was referring to a particularly nasty case of flatulence.

However, one of the very best hilarious stupid crime stories comes from a man in Texas, USA who was arrested for trying to cash a cheque for three hundred and sixty billion dollars. Yes, he tried to get the bank teller to give him 360 times more money than Grand Theft Auto V made in its first weekend of sales.

It’s a bit of an old story now, taking place in 2008, however it has gone down in history as one of the most ridiculous stunts that have ever been attempted at a bank.

Charles Ray Fuller, 21, claimed to be starting a record company and said that he had been given the cheque by his girlfriend’s mother. The staff of the bank spotted the 10 zeroes on the personal cheque and quickly realised that something wasn’t right. They contacted the account owner and they were told that she had not given Mr. Fuller any permission to take the cheque or to cash it. Big surprise.

Mr. Fuller was arrested for forgery and was eventually released on a bail of $3,750. When he was arrested it was also found that he was carrying a weapon and marijuana. The case was pretty cut and dry, it doesn’t take a highly educated legal expert who has read every book on LexisNexis Au to know that this guy was up to something dodgy.

What Was He Thinking?

It truly makes you wonder what was going through his head when he walked into that bank. Did he really think that the bank teller would cash his cheque without batting an eye and give him US$360 billion (£217 billion) in cash? Did he even imagine that the bank would have that much money on hand?

Let’s think about how much money $360 billion really is. The Gross Domestic Product (The value of all goods and services from a nation in one given year) of Denmark is only $314.8 billion. The GDP of New Zealand is only $171 billion. Did Mr. Fuller really think that he could get away with cashing a cheque for more than twice the annual gross domestic product of New Zealand?

There are approximately 7 billion people on earth at the moment. If he had been successful and had walked away with the amount written on the cheque, (although this would have upset the entire world economy dramatically) he would have enough money to give every single person on earth a 50 dollar bill (about £30). However, I’m sure he wasn’t planning on spending it in such a generous way.

One Million Dollar Bills?

Charles Ray Fuller is not the only example of foolish criminals attempting to get away with a ridiculous crime. In October of 2007, a man in Pittsburgh was arrested when he tried to hand over a counterfeit one million dollar bill at a supermarket, asking for change.

Three years before that, a woman tried to spend a fake $1 million bill at a supermarket in Georgia. She was also arrested.

When a criminal does something so ridiculous, you must assume that they are either foolish and naïve, or they have very little understanding of how money, banks, cash registers and finances function in general. Otherwise, what could they possibly be thinking?

Written in collaboration with writers at Lexis Nexis Australia

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Lyndon is the General Editor of Current Sentencing Practice and the Criminal Appeal Reports (Sentencing)

3 COMMENTS

  1. I know Sterling has been in the doldrums in recent years, but things aren’t quite so bad that US$360 billion are now worth a mere £217 million!

  2. Thank you for reminding me, Dan, please get in touch, when you get your squillion dollars from those nice people from Nigeria I’m going to let you in on the ground floor in my Lead Helicopter Company and after that if you are very good indeed you can make some serious money in the Atlantic Tunnel scheme . . . don’t laugh, they said there could never be a fixed link across the Channel, too you know!

  3. I humbly suggest that this man wasn’t a conventional *criminal* as we know it at all. He was “not of normal criminal element” at all (he was therefore a “NONCE”, literally.) Rather, he seems to have been more like an Old Testament-style *prophet* in his symbolic mischief-making, several of whom God led to perform equally bizarre actions that also transgressed social norms of the time, annoying no end various corrupt Israelite and Judean kings and their ruling class courtiers and cronies.

    Theatrically, Harold Wayne Hadley Jr “attempted”, in May 2008, a hopelessly unrealistic “fraud” that he must surely have known all along would be impossible for a pleb like him to pull off, or anybody at all given that he was demanding that much *cash*. He did this in May 2008, just a few months (historians lurking here will remember) before a successful fraud or two were at last discovered, of similar magnitude, perpetrated by Patricians who are yet to answer for their similarly grave and heinous crimes, from the effect of which the poor of the world are still left reeling, even to this day.

    The British comedian and actor Stephen Fry (who would be unlikely to appreciate my own unashamedly homophobic blog, despite its friendly stance towards those who, like Mr Fry, have been diagnosed to have mental health disabilities) once asserted (I think on the News Quiz) that proof that God existed lay in the remarkable coincidence that a certain then-politician’s name, “Virginia Bottomley”, conveniently turned out to be an anagram of “I’m an evil Tory bigot”, Well, I see a similar coincidence here, for what it’s worth, and blithely give God the glory for it.

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