Last year in Las Vegas, I cashed out a couple of cash vouchers (worth around 60$) at the special ATMs located inside casinos. Finished my trip and headed back to Turkey. Then the failed coup attempt happened..

It is now almost a crime to have 1$ bills with serial numbers starting with F (Turkish government ties these bills to Fethullah Gulen - Gulenist movement in US which is believed to have staged the coup). A lot of citizens are being detained for long periods of time and questioned by Anti-Terrorism Bureau just by carrying these bills.

Some references in English:

[1] http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/08/turkey-gulen-movement-one-dollar-fear.html

[2] http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-turkey-coup-u-s-banknotes-20160805-story.html

[3] http://aa.com.tr/en/todays-headlines/turkey-fetos-one-dollar-bill-mystery-solved/614338

And the big surprise, I had couple of these bills. Now of course, I immediately disposed those bills, I wonder if it could be possible to trace them back to their sources if I hadn't?

Do banks, ATMs and casinos track the serial number on the bills that they dispense ?

  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as it is not about Travel but rather money. I would recommend re-posting this question on Money.SE.
    – Michael
    Jul 19, 2017 at 14:07
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    Publically, there's wheresgeorge.com. Unless you work for the US Treasury Department or other Federal LE, a note's movements are not available.
    – Johns-305
    Jul 19, 2017 at 14:08
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    How bizarre. Did nobody point out that the letter F has been used to designate the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta since the founding of the system over 100 years ago? Gulen lives in the district of the Philadelphia Fed.
    – phoog
    Jul 19, 2017 at 14:11
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    @phoog Noone claims that Gulen has anything to do with the issuance or printing of the bills. It is not impossible though that his supporters are actually carrying dollar bills with a F-prefixed serial number as a sign of some kind of silent affiliation. Still bizarre though, if people having dollar bills with serial numbers starting with F by chance (and there will be a lot of them) are so worried about the situation that they tear up or throw away the bills.
    – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo
    Jul 19, 2017 at 14:16
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    This question would be much better off over in the conspiracies SO.
    – Gayot Fow
    Jul 19, 2017 at 17:16

2 Answers 2


Consider the scale of the problem of tracking paper money.

Here is the chain of custody that would have to exist for you to get in any trouble at all:

  1. The US Federal Reserve shares with Turkey the serial numbers of these allegedly Gulenist bills.
  2. The banks who originally received these bills kept a record and share that record with Turkey
  3. Repeat step 2 for every bank that ever handled those bills
  4. The casino or the casinos bank might have a record that the casino got the bill and it was loaded into a particular ATM
  5. Your cash voucher was linked to you. Maybe it had your room number tied to the voucher serial number
  6. The ATM knows what serial numbers it dispensed to cash out that voucher

The whole thing is absurd. The banks and casinos probably don't track that information. Even if they did they're not going to share it without a really good reason.

After that whole series of events. ITS CASH. The good thing about paper money is that you can just receive it and spend it without going through a bank.

In your case tracking that dollar bill seems really unlikely. It is just too much effort to track the number of small bills that move through a casino or bank.


No, they don't track this information, especially not at the general-public-facing level. Who knows where else that bill has been?

Maybe I got it from a bank, spent it at a store, who gave it as change to another customer, who put it in a birthday card for their nephew, who spent it at another store, who bagged it up and deposited it at a bank branch, who just counts it and dispenses it back to their registers/ATMs/Ships it to other branches.

You can glean some information from the serial number relating to its origins, but there really is little tracking done once the bill is produced and shipped out.

There's an interesting read about Decoding a United States One Dollar Bill. Of course "interesting" may be a strong word for some here...

The serial number of a bill appears twice, once in the lower left hand quadrant and again in the upper right hand quadrant on the front of the bill. The letter which precedes the numbers must be the same number that you saw identifying the Federal Reserve Bank. The last letter of the serial number or suffix letter identifies the number of times that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing used the sequence of serial numbers � A is the first time, B is the second time, C is the third time and so on. With one run for each letter of the alphabet (26) and 32 bill per run, there are a total of 832 bills per serial number.

As Freiheit mentioned, F simply means it was distributed by the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta. Tying the F back to Fethullah Gulen is strictly propaganda and an absurd conspiracy theory.

After that identifying letter at the beginning, "F" in your example, the rest of the number really isn't much of an identifier.

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    Re "minted in Atlanta", that's probably wrong. (Besides the fact that bills are printed, coins are minted.) It means that the bill was issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta: the actuall bill was printed by the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing. AFAIK all their printing is done either in Washington, or at their facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
    – jamesqf
    Jul 20, 2017 at 16:32
  • @jamesqf - Very true. My terminology is all off there, I'll revise that. According to the source I cited (plus others), there are 12 banks responsible for printing money and the letter F stands for the one in Atlanta. I believe coins are only minted in the 2 locations you specified.
    – BobbyScon
    Jul 20, 2017 at 16:38
  • @jamesqf - But maybe I should just label it as distributed by rather than printed in, in case that's not correct.
    – BobbyScon
    Jul 20, 2017 at 16:47
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    I think the Federal Reserve Banks issue the money, but don't produce the actual bills. It gets rather complicated (and I admit I don't fully understand it) because the issuing of money doesn't seem to have a direct relationship to the actual bills. Some bills may replace worn out ones; other "money" can be purely accounting...
    – jamesqf
    Jul 21, 2017 at 4:36

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