Dubious banknotes with Chinese lettering reading “practice vouchers” were branded as counterfeit by a provincial court judge who sentenced a man last month.
The notes, which were used in a number of fraudulent purchases last year, have brightly coloured Chinese letters explaining they’re fake; however, Judge Quentin Douglas Agnew deemed them counterfeit.
“All of the listed harms of counterfeiting ultimately arise from the false money being passed as genuine,” explained Agnew. “Accordingly, a piece of paper or a coin will constitute counterfeit money if it is reasonably possible that it will be accepted in a commercial transaction by a person of ordinary prudence and vigilance.”
His decision was reached with help from information provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which claims about 9,000 counterfeit banknotes of varying denominations were passed as genuine since last November.
The notes were originally intended for bank clerks to practice counting bills according to Tzu-I Chung, a history curator at the Royal BC Museum.
“But apparently some people tried to use them in Canada. The Chinese characters mean ‘practice vouchers’, meaning they are for practices.”
Since last year, versions of the seized counterfeit currency have been seized by police in many jurisdictions, including Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
Last year in Australia, $100 notes with similar Chinese lettering were also used to make fraudulent purchases at local businesses.
According to Australian police, these notes were also produced to train Chinese bank tellers to identify foreign currency. The markings on these notes translated to “Training Money. SAMPLE. Only for practice. Circulation Forbidden.”
“These notes are the kind that are available quite commonly over eBay,” Australian Detective Senior Sergeant Glenn Leafe told ABC News last May. “They are training notes. They’re not a counterfeit currency so to speak but they are something that can be used to deceive store owners.”
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 banknote 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.
More information on how to authenticate genuine Canadian currency can be found at bankofcanada.ca/banknotes/counterfeit-prevention.