Following a surge of fraudulent purchases at businesses in Kelowna, West Kelowna and Lake Country, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is warning British Columbia residents to be extra vigilant when dealing with banknotes.
Police seized counterfeit Canadian notes—$50 and $100 denominations—after complaints from several businesses, including retail outlets, gas stations, pharmacies, cafes and gift shops. One of the fakes—a counterfeit $100 note seized in West Kelowna—was described by police as asymmetrical and taped together using a hologram from a $10 banknote.
“In most cases, the customer has been provided with change after making a small purchase using a counterfeit bill,” said RCMP Corporal Jesse O’Donaghey in a statement issued last month. “In other cases, the customer purchases a more expensive item at one store with the phony money, then immediately returns that item for real cash at another store location of the same franchise.”
Police have since released a surveillance image of a person of interest that’s believed to be involved in at least one of the fraudulent purchases.
ADVICE TO AVOID FRAUD
When dealing with someone who is attempting to pass counterfeit bank notes, cash handlers must ensure their own safety first. Police also offered the following advice:
- be especially careful during busy periods, when counterfeit notes are more likely to be passed;
- be wary of customers who want to pay with much higher denominations of bills than needed;
- if possible, keep the suspicious banknote and record all relevant information about the bill and the person, such as denomination, serial number, time, context, physical descriptions, and vehicles and licence plates;
- contact your local police service;
- give the suspicious bank note to the police and request a receipt (if the note is genuine, it will be returned to you); and
- remember the person passing a counterfeit banknote may not be aware it is phoney—he or she could also be an unwitting victim of crime.
CHECK YOUR CASH
Even with new technology, no counterfeiter is able to produce an exact duplicate of a genuine banknote; a counterfeit is always an inferior copy of the original. At first glance, a good counterfeit might look legitimate; however, if you know what to look for—and feel for—it only takes a few seconds to detect a fake.
Read more about Canadian banknote security features at the Bank of Canada website.