Fact Check

Buck Fifty Gang Initiation in New Jersey

Are gang initiates in New Jersey slashing victims' faces to 'get a buck fifty'?

Published March 17, 2008


Claim:   Gang initiates in New Jersey are slashing victims' faces to "get a buck fifty."


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, March 2008]


One of our members came into the office today with over 100 stitches in his face. It was sliced from ear to mouth. He was at the corner of Sherman & Main in Vineland (by the WAWA) last weekend, a car pulled up and asked him to pull down the window. When he did the kid said did you have a fight with my brother at bar down the road. My member, Tom, denied it, but the kid pulled out a knife and sliced his face wide open. What we've since found out is that it is a new gang initiation call "getting a buck fifty". Karen Becker (who works for Creative Achievement) an alternative school just went to a seminar on this. It is very very scary. Please do not open your window for anybody and please tell your kids the same.


Origins:   The above-quoted item is yet another entry in the

roll call of spurious gang initiation warnings, this one at least distinguished in not being made of whole cloth — it does describe a real occurrence, even though the incident had nothing to do with a gang initiation.

The e-mailed warning claims that a victim (identified only as "Tom") had his face "sliced from ear to mouth" in a March 2008 incident that took place at Sherman Avenue and Main Street in Vineland, New Jersey. A face sliced in this manner is known in urban slang as a "buck fifty," although the origins of the term are unknown: Various explanations claim that it stemmed from the $1.50 price of a slice of pizza, the cost of a razor, the price of a token in New York City (because victims were often attacked in train stations), or the resultant gaping cut's requiring 150 stitches to close.

Vineland police who investigated the incident verified that although something like the attack described in the e-mail did take place, it was unrelated to any gang (initiation) activity:

Vineland Police Lt. Tom Ulrich said that, although the e-mail is based on a real incident, the conclusions it draws are false.

Ulrich declined to release the name of the victim, identified in the e-mail as "Tom."

The incident allegedly stemmed from a fight two weeks [earlier] at the MVP Bar, in Buena. According to Ulrich, the incident has nothing to do with a gang initiation.

"The person who sent this e-mail had inaccurate information," he said. "The e-mail has spread around like unbelievable. This incident had nothing to do with gangs. But in the world we live in, stuff can spread pretty fast."

Last updated:   14 July 2011


    Dunn, Matt.   "'Buck Fifty' E-Mail Rumor Contains False Information."

    South Jersey Online.   14 March 2008.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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