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Dropped $5 Bill Serial Killer Warning Email

Emails claim that a serial killer is tricking women into allowing him access to their vehicles by pretending to return a $5 bill that he says they have dropped (Full commentary below).


Example:(Submitted, December 2006)
Subject: FW: new trick for rapists or attackers beware.

Know what money you are carrying! You will see why as you read!

Be sure every lady is aware of this. Share it with your wife and daughters. Know what money you are carrying. This was the first I have heard of a scheme like this.. I wanted to pass it along. Be safe! It is something very serious to pay attention to.

Criminals are coming up with craftier, less threatening methods of attack, so we have to be extra cautious. Read on.

I live near the Blue Mountains but I often work at North Ryde, staying with friends when I'm there. As you know from Australia's Most Wanted TV program, as well as the new media, there is a serial killer in the area. I just want to let you know about an "incident " that happened to me a few weeks ago, and could have been deadly.

At first I didn't go to the police or anyone with it because I didn't realize how serious this encounter was. But since I work in a jail and I told a few people about it, it wasn't long before I was paraded into Internal Affairs to tell them my story.

It was proximately 5:15 a.m. I had stayed with a friend there and was on my way to work. I stopped at the Caltex Station to get petrol. I got $10 petrol and a Diet Coke. I took into the store two $5 bills and one $1 coin (just enough to get my stuff).

As I pulled away from the store, a man approached my truck from the back side of the store (an unlit area). He was an approachable-looking" man (clean cut, clean shaven, dressed well, etc.). He walked up to my window and knocked. Since I'm very paranoid and "always looking for the rapist or killer," I didn't open the window I just asked what he wanted. He raised a $5 bill to my window and said, "You dropped this." Since I knew I had gone into the store with a certain amount of money, I knew I didn't drop it. When I told him it wasn't mine, he began hitting the window and door, screaming at me to open my door, and insisting that I had dropped the money!

At that point, I just drove away as fast as I could. After talking to the Internal Affairs Department and describing the man I saw, and the way he escalated from calm and polite to angry and was determined that I could have possibly encountered the serial killer myself.

Up to this point, it had been unclear as to how he had gained access to his victims, since there has been no evidence of forced entry into victim's homes, cars, etc. And the fact that he has been attacking in the daytime, when women are less likely to have their guard up, means he is pretty BOLD.

So think about it...what gesture is nicer than returning money to someone that dropped it?????
How many times would you have opened your window (or door) to get your money and say thank you.... because if the person is kind enough to return something to you, then he can't really be a threat....can he????

Please be cautious! This might not have been the serial killer... but anyone that gets that angry over someone not accepting money from them, can't have honourable intentions. The most important thing to note is that his reaction was! NOT WHAT I EXPECTED! A total surprise! But what might have happened if I had opened my door? I shudder to think!

Forward this to everyone you know...maybe they can be as fortunate as I was!

P.S. Ladies, really DO forward this to EVERYONE you know Even if this wasn't a serial killer, he looked nice, he seemed polite, he was apparently doing an act of kindness, but HE WAS NOT A NICE PERSON!!! Men send it to all the women in your life. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. Make it a good one! Please forward to anyone you think might benefit from this story.

This email forward warns that a serial killer may be abducting his female victims by pretending to return a dropped five dollar note. According to the story, the killer tries to trick women into opening their car door or window by claiming they have dropped money after a visit to a nearby service station or shop.

The variant included here is aimed at Australian recipients and includes Australian place names. However, other than the Australian references, the message is virtually identical to US based versions that have been circulating for several years.

The original US version first began circulating in 2002 and 2003 when a real serial killer was operating out of Louisiana. In May 2003 Derrick Todd Lee was arrested as a suspect in the murders. Lee was linked to the deaths of five women in Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas of Louisiana and ultimately received the death penalty. He currently resides on Louisiana State Penitentiary's death row.

Not surprisingly, myths and rumours abounded amid the climate of fear that pervaded Louisiana during the time the killings took place. Fearful citizens were apt to link even minor incidents to the killer. Unsubstantiated encounters and "narrow escape" stories were common. This emailed warning represents one of these unsubstantiated encounters. Even the original version contained no information that would enable a reader to confirm the claims in the story. Moreover, there is nothing in the history of the crimes that indicates Lee used the "dropped $5 bill" tactic described.

Since 2003, a number of mutated versions have emerged, set in different areas of the United States and the world. While the original alluded to a real serial killer, subsequent versions do not. For example, the Australian version included here claims that the serial killer is currently operating in the Sydney area (North Ryde) and that the killer was featured on "Australia's Most Wanted". However, there is no current news reports about a Sydney based serial killer and the "Australia's Most Wanted" program has not been aired on Australian TV since 1999.

Of course, the possibility that the original message described a real incident or even that the "Good Samaritan" really was the killer cannot be dismissed. And it is not impossible that a criminal might use such a "dropped note" tactic to gain access to a victim's vehicle. However, there have been no credible reports of such incidents occurring in any of the places named in the various versions of the message. Even if only a few such incidents had occurred, they would have almost certainly been featured by news and media outlets. The very fact that there are so many versions of the "warning" set in different places indicates that the messages are just being geographically adjusted to suit a particular audience and do not reflect real events in the areas specified.

Certainly, we should protect our personal safety by exercising due caution. And an apparently kind and helpful stranger may indeed have more sinister motives. However, forwarding this bogus warning will only spread unnecessary fear and alarm. It is also likely to have the undesirable effect of wasting the time of police staff who find they must answer endless questions about the message from concerned members of the public.

Derrick Todd Lee, the Baton Rouge Serial Killer - The Crime library

Last updated: 6th December 2006
First published: 6th December 2006

Write-up by Brett M.Christensen