A report by the Canadian Broadcasting Company on Jan. 13 credits the
use of polymer in Canada’s new bank notes starting four years ago with
a 74 percent drop in the number of fakes passed to retailers in 2015.
Counterfeiting in Canada falls under the jurisdiction of the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police National Anti-Counterfeiting Bureau in Ottawa.
The bureau reports that about 10 years ago it would receive up to
45,000 notes a month. In December 2015 it received 1,500, of which
many were copies of easier to fake older-series paper notes.
The polymer counterfeits seen thus far are mostly of poor to medium
quality. When touched, the feel is wrong. Most are made on paper,
sometimes with a waxy or plastic coating to simulate the different
feel of the new notes. Attempts to copy the advanced security features
have been deficient. Among the schemes has been using glittery
wrapping paper taped to transparent plastic strips to simulate
holograms. Some forgers have gone so far as to buy holographic sheets
from China, some of which have been seized at customs. In other cases
the security window cut from real $5 notes was pasted onto $50 notes
and $100 notes.
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Robert Moyes, a 31-year RCMP veteran, told the CBC that Australia is
seeing more sophisticated polymer counterfeits and that, hoping to
avert future problems, the potential impact of 3D printers in
counterfeiting is now being investigated.
The story revealed some other interesting facts: The $100 bill is
the most commonly counterfeited polymer note, but among the older
series it is the $20 note. The Bank of Canada estimates that 80
percent of its bank notes now circulating are polymer.
And when the Canadian dollar drops in value, as it has recently, the
RCMP sees more counterfeit U.S. Federal Reserve notes, which the
Mounties say are both easier to copy and easier to pass since
Canadians are not as familiar with the security features.