Dennis Bergeron disovered his first Where's George bill at the Woburn Post Office on April 3, 2003 when the clerk behind the counter handed over his change. She pointed out that it was a "Where's George" bill, and he could check out where it has been online.
After that, Bergeron, a Waltham native, was hooked on tracking other bills and fascinated with their nationwide travels.
Bergeron uses wheresgeorge.com to track the bills. The site allows users to record various currency and mark them with an address before spending them.
"The hope is that, as the bills make their rounds, people will go to the website and record where they came across them," wrote The Wall Street Jounral. "Those who registered the bills, and anyone who records a find, are notified by email of each new entry, and can see the entire trail by visiting the site."
Bergeron, who grew up in Waltham but now lives in Burlington, has tracked bills for nearly 10 years, and has entered 23,447 individual bills varying from $1 up to $100. Of those, 1,835 have been '"hit" (meaning entered by another user) and 220 of them have been entered more than once.
"I have found 68 'wilds,'" said Bergeron, "which are bills that someone else has entered into the database and either stamped or written the website on. My bills have been entered in 47 states, the only hold outs are Alaska, Nebraska and South Dakota. They have also been entered in 12 other countries."
The site also allows users to search for bills by their denomination, series number, the serial number and the zip code from the location of the bill.
"You can also leave a message, usually stating where you found the bill or what condition it is in," said Bergeron. "From there, you can do one of three things, 1. Stamp the bill with a premade stamp. Most users buy them from www.stamp-connection.com, 2. Write the website on the bill with a pen or pencil, or 3. Leave it blank also known as a 'Stealth' bill. The mantra of Where's George is 'EMS' for Enter, Mark and Spend. Once you spend it, you hope someone sees the stamp and is curious enough to goto the site and reenter the bill."
Bergeron marveled at how far some bills have traveled.
"Some bills get hits within the first week of me spending them," he said. "And some take 2-5 years, and others just don't get re-entered."