Crooks counterfeit 'impossible to counterfeit' Canadian currency

May 22, 2013

Maybe it's a challenge that no self-respecting counterfeiter could pass up. Or maybe it's a case of public overconfidence in banknotes that are supposed to be impossible to counterfeit — practically. 

Most likely, it's the latter, since the fake polymer notes recently passed off in Vancouver apparently weren't even great replicas. 

According to a report by Maclean's, authorities in the Vancouver area have issued warnings to the public that fake $100 banknotes have been turning up.

And merchants have been getting stung, despite the fact that counterfeit bills lacked security features such as raised printing, and even left off visual elements including the flag on top of a building.

"[T]here's almost an overconfidence among retailers and the public in terms of when you sort of see the strip, the polymer looking materials, everybody says, 'Oh, this one's going to be good because you know it's impossible to counterfeit,'" RCMP Sgt. Duncan Pound told Maclean's. "So people don't actually check it."

The Bank of Canada provides a checklist to help people verify currency: For instance, a real $100 polymer bill has a transparent window with a finely detailed metallic portrait, a building and words. When the bill is tilted, colors in the metallic building shift noticeably. Also, numbers matching the denomination of the bill are visible through the note's frosted maple-leaf window.

Hyland told Macleans that, according to a forensic expert, the bills were designed to be just real-looking enough to fool people, "[I]n that if you had one or two of these bills you probably could not tell, but if you had one of these counterfeit bills next to a legitimate bill it would be quite obvious that they are not real." 

Read more about security.

Topics: Security , Skimming / Fraud

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