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Counterfeit $100 bills making their way east

Ottawa Sun:

Eastern Ontario is being flooded with counterfeit $100 bills, according to the OPP.

Counterfeiters are cranking out copies of the old paper banknote because the new polymer version -- introduced in 2011 -- is too difficult to copy and the Bank of Canada can't remove the older version from circulation fast enough.

"Counterfeiters target the outgoing series because they're easier to copy," said Marie Terrien, senior analyst at the Bank of Canada. "Removing the paper currency from circulation is a huge process. It will take years to complete."

While both the paper and the polymer versions of the note come with sophisticated security features such as holographic images, security threads, puzzle numbers and watermarks, counterfeiters have not been able to effectively reproduce the polymer embossed printing process.

As a result, the new currency has virtually eliminated counterfeiting.

"The polymer series is doing extremely well because of the innovative security features and durability. We haven't seen counterfeits in months," said Terrien.

Before the Bank of Canada switched from paper to plastic bills, counterfeit currency was a growing issue for Canadian Tire's Coventry store general manager Scott Hayley. Every year, he had the RCMP in to coach his cashiers on how to screen currency for counterfeit bills.

"Today, we see one, maybe two fake bills a week and what we're catching is usually small, $5 and $10 bills that customers accidentally picked up. It's usually the criminal who is intentionally trying to cash the $50 and $100 bills. But that hardly happens with the new bills."

The Bank of Canada recommends refusing any bill that looks suspicious and may be counterfeit, ask for another bill, and inform the police.

"If something doesn't feel right, trust your gut instinct and do something about it," said Sergeant Kristine Rae of the OPP's detachment in Smiths Falls. "Return counterfeit bills to the bank or store you got it from, and if they won't accept it, call your local police services."

"We'll keep any counterfeit bills and call the police. You have to be careful because most of the time, the customer doesn't know it's a counterfeit and they're out of pocket. It's unfortunate, but they understand. Then there are those times when a customer is trying to pass a large denomination counterfeit bill and they won't take no for an answer, but they rarely hang around long enough for the police to arrive."

You can download a screening kit for counterfeit bills on the Bank of Canada website.