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I've received a few e-mails asking about the World Reserve Monetary Exchange so I did some research. At first it sounds like an official government entity, but it's actually an overpriced source of items you can buy directly from the government (the US Mint and the Bureau of Engraving).
You can tell they're trying hard to make you believe you're getting a good deal when they tell you about breathtaking pictures of the presidents and such, but just be aware that you can get the same items for less elsewhere. If you are willing to pay extra for their packaging, you are welcome to do so.
Andrew Kantor wrote up a very useful article on this subject at roanoke.com.
Here is the first few paragraphs of his article, you can read the rest of it at the site linked above.
"Hot off the Gov't Press," reads an ad that's appearing in newspapers around the country, "public handover of rare full sheets of money."
But there is no "handover," and the uncut currency sheets are far from rare. And as far as being "this year's hottest Christmas Gift" -- well, the iPod nano and Xbox 360 might have something to say about that.
Designed to look like a news article, full-page ads have run as recently as Tuesday in The Roanoke Times. They appear to be news stories, except for the tiny word "Advertisement" at the top. The ad from the official-sounding "World Reserve Monetary Exchange" has run in newspapers across the country since mid-November, including the Houston Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News.
It offers uncut sheets of uncirculated U.S. currency: $1, $2 and $5 bills in sheets of four as gift sets for the currency collector in your family.
There's no fraud here. The sheets are real and the money is legit. But a little looking shows that it's not necessarily a good deal, and the company making it is known for making big deals out of ordinary purchases.
According to the ad and the company, a sheet of four $1 bills sells for $15, plus $5.95 for shipping and handling. A similar deal -- four singles, plus a portfolio, is available for $24.90 through the company's Web site.
But that's not the only place they're available.
The United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing -- which actually makes the money -- also sells uncut sheets of currency for $15 but with no shipping and handling fee.
In fact, that's just where the World Reserve Monetary Exchange got the money, according to Claudia Dickens, spokeswoman for the BEP. The government sells the sheets to anyone who's interested, and even offers up to a 20 percent discount on bulk purchases.
This isn't the only time the WRME has sold something at a higher price that's available from the government.
In 1994, the same company, calling itself the United States Monetary Exchange, ran ads in newspapers, including the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Chicago Tribune, selling packs of five $2 bills for $24.85, including shipping.
And when new buffalo nickels debuted earlier this year, the WRME offered a roll of 40 coins at face value plus a "standard $7 processing fee plus shipping"; that's $9.00 plus shipping. At the same time, the U.S. Mint offered two 40-coin rolls of buffalo nickels for $8.95 -- less than half the price.
In the same ad for the nickels, the WRME also offered a free "Cross made with grains of sacred sand from Christ's tomb."
The ads are full of breathless prose and questionable tactics.
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