Be cautious of counterfeit currency

Police are warning Ontario residents of a recent spurt of counterfeit currency making the rounds in the province.

Since the beginning of 2017, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have received 82 reports of counterfeit bills in its West Region, which is headquartered in London, Ont. The fakes range in value from $5 to $100, and both Canadian and U.S. counterfeits have been passed.

“Counterfeit deterrence requires a team approach from all partners including law enforcement agencies, the Bank of Canada, retailers and the public working together,” said Chief Superintendent J.E. (John) Tod, of the OPP Investigation and Support Bureau. “If you come across phoney money, contact your local police service.”

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) reports there 17,504 counterfeit Canadian banknotes passed in 2016. Nearly 4,000 of those notes—roughly 22 per cent—were passed in Ontario.


The OPP is partnering with the Bank of Canada and the RCMP to educate citizens and business owners about counterfeit currency.

When dealing with someone who is attempting to pass counterfeit bank notes, cash handlers must ensure their own safety first. Police warn to:

  • 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);
  • 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.


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.

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