Paper Money

Counterfeit Federal Reserve notes circulate in Canada

Innisfail RCMP Constable Simon Watson is shown in a photograph from an Alberta newspaper, holding a brochure containing details about detecting counterfeit U.S. and Canadian paper money.

Image by Johnnie Bachusky/MVP Staff.

A few reports out of Canada leave the impression that counterfeiting of Federal Reserve notes is a bigger problem there than of Canadian paper currency itself. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is following up on reports of fake notes being passed in at least two Alberta towns, Red Deer and Innisfail, according to stories in the communities’ local papers.

The subject notes in one case appeared to be color photocopies on good quality paper, but often with duplicate serial numbers. 

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The RCMP said that places like gas stations and fast-food restaurants are the most susceptible, and so it is embarking on an educational campaign using three Bank of Canada educational pamphlets with detailed breakdowns of security features on both Canadian and American bills. (Close examination of the American leaflet identifies it as the Treasury Department’s “Know Your Money” brochure.) 

An RCMP representative said, “When they are dealing with American money, just be more attentive with the serial numbers, [and] raised ink. Pay really good attention to it and make sure it is real.”

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In Burlington, Vt., about 50 miles from the Canadian border, retailers are frequently criticized by visitors for not accepting Canadian money, while U.S. paper money is accepted everywhere north of the border. Local merchants freely admit that, except for the fact that Canadian money “feels different” (because of the polymer), they know nothing else about it. Perhaps the merchants on this side of the border have the right idea.

Regarding counterfeit Canadian paper currency, the RCMP says that in 2015 it seized a total of 3,967 bank notes, while 16,445 pieces totaling $659,245 were passed. This is down from $2,438,170 and 13,960 notes passed in 2014.

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