A Vietnamese couple arrived in Detroit, the US, Friday with US$4.63 million in votive money used as offerings to the deceased.
Customs officers discovered a suitcase stuffed with the bills after deciding to search the couple’s luggage when they made conflicting statements about how much money they were carrying in excess of $10,000.
“A secondary search of their luggage resulted in the discovery of 93 bundles of counterfeit US $100 bills and 32 bundles of counterfeit Vietnamese dong,” The Detroit News quoted a statement from the US customs as saying.
“The couple attempted to import the counterfeit $100 bills and Vietnamese dong into the United States to be offered as burnt-offerings to the deceased, as often practiced in certain Asian cultures.”
It is not known how much the counterfeit dong came to.
The bills have been seized by the Secret Service, which also protects the US president.
The votive paper is meant to resemble legal tender and is a common sight in Vietnam.
Traditionally, grieving relatives burn these bills and paper models of houses, clothes, and vehicles in the belief that the objects will pass on to their ancestors in the spirit world.
Since the Vietnamese couple never tried to spend the money, US customs allowed them to continue with their travel.