Topic: Counterfeit Notes on the Rise - Bank of Canada  (Read 3452 times)
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« on: March 15, 2005, 04:43:47 pm »

COUNTERFEIT $10, $20 bills Rampant in 2004
Fake notes soared 25%  

In today's Globe and Mail newspaper (Business Section 'B5')


Tuesday, March 15, 2005 Page B5

The number of bogus Canadian bank notes found in circulation soared by nearly one-quarter last year, as counterfeiters apparently went down-market to concentrate more on $20 bills than on higher denominations in the hopes of better evading detection, the Bank of Canada says.

The figure jumped to 553,000 bills from 443,000 in 2003, the central bank says in its annual report for 2004, although their total value merely inched up, to $13-million from $12.7-million. About 360,160 of last year's counterfeits were 20s, and another 123,400 were 10s, compared with 161,577 and 158,997 in 2003, according to information on the RCMP's website.

"What we suspect is that counterfeiters may have turned to lower denominations because they expect that people won't check them, and that makes them easier to pass," Ginette Crew, a spokeswoman for the Bank of Canada, said yesterday.

Last year, the Bank of Canada began issuing new $20, $50 and $100 bills featuring what it has said are the most sophisticated security features to date, and it plans to add a new $10 note in May.

Retailers and bank staff, who detect most of the forgeries that are found, generally check higher-value bills more closely.

As well, the "vast majority" of the bogus notes were from the central bank's so-called Birds of Canada series, first introduced in 1986, which featured fewer security features than other series introduced more recently.

One older higher denomination bill did get particular attention from counterfeiters last year, the bank said.

It was the $100 bill from the Scenes of Canada series introduced in 1969. As with the $100 notes in other series, this one features a portrait of former Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden on the front. The back features a scene of Lunenburg harbour, in Nova Scotia.

The bank suspects that "very few genuine $100 notes from this series remain in active circulation," it says in the annual report.

Ms. Crew said that the denominations favoured by counterfeiters do vary from year to year, but that it is not possible to make predictions.

Currency counterfeiting has spiked upwards around the world over the past few years because of the advent of inexpensive new technology, including colour photocopiers, ink-jet printers and scanners.

In Canada, the largest jump so far came between 2002 and 2003, when the number of fake bills shot up by more than 100 per cent and the total value nearly tripled.

The security features on last year's new bills include a holographic stripe, watermark portrait, "see-through" denomination number and an "enhanced" ultraviolet feature under which various colours show up when the note is viewed under ultraviolet light.

The object is to make it harder for counterfeiters to recreate the notes accurately while making it easier for cashiers and others to spot the forgeries.

What are believed to have been the first counterfeits of these high-tech banknotes -- two $100 bills -- were found at separate locations in Ontario late last month. Ms. Crew said the counterfeits were of very poor quality and "very easily detectable when you check the security features."

She noted that the growth rate has slowed dramatically, which she attributed in part to the new features, but said it would be impossible to eliminate counterfeiting entirely. Apart from anything else, she said, counterfeiters need to pass bogus notes successfully only once "and their job is done."

Counterfeiters gaining currency

The widespread availability of advanced reprographic technology has led to a boom in currency counterfeiting.

In response to the trend, the Bank of Canada has begun issuing notes incorporating enhanced security features.

The security features

In 2001, the Bank introduced its Canadian Journey series and has issued $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations over the past four years. The notes are distinguished by security and tactile features, including:

1. Holographic stripe

Tilt the bill and numerals and maple leaves shimmer, within the shiny, metallic stripe.

2. Ultraviolet feature

Under ultraviolet light, gold and yellow text and random fibres glow.

3. Watermark

A small, ghost-like portrait, embedded in the paper, appears when the note is held to the light.

4. See-through number

Held to the light, irregular marks on the front and back of the bill combine to form a complete numeral.

5. Windowed security thread.

A security thread woven into the paper appears as a shimmering gold and green line when held to the light.

Counterfeiters' target

In 2004, counterfeiting of $100 notes from the old Scenes of Canada series jumped significantly. The Bank of Canada estimates that very few genuine $100 notes from this series remain in circulation and is encouraging retailers to ask for notes from a more recent series if they cannot confirm the authenticity of a note that is offered for payment.

Upgrading the $10 note

On May 18, the Bank of Canada will issue a new $10 note with upgraded security features. The new bill will include a metallic holographic stripe, a watermark portrait, a see-through number, and colour-shifting thread woven into the paper. The Bank expects most of the older $10 notes will be withdrawn from circulation within a year.


« Last Edit: March 15, 2005, 06:55:08 pm by coinsplus »

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