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Police urge Calgarians to be on the lookout for counterfeit money

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Jack Hauen Jul 07, 2016 11:00 pm

The Calgary Police Service Economic Crimes Unit has received multiple tips from customers and merchants alike that counterfeit money may be circulating in the city.

With the Stampede on the horizon, bringing with it a guaranteed influx of cash and visitors, police have asked vendors to keep a close eye on notes they receive during this hectic time. Everyone else should double-check their bills as well, just in case.

The CPS’s guide to making sure money is legitimate:

Canadian currency (plastic)

  • Each bill is one sheet of polymer. You shouldn’t see any tape in the large see-through window or around the small maple leaf window imitating real security features.
  • Make sure the large portrait on the bill is the same as the small portrait in the see-through window. When the note is tilted back and forward, you should see an array of colours reflected off the two images in the window from the front and back of the bill.
  • For a full list of the security features available on polymer notes, go to the Bank of Canada’s interactive guide.

Canadian currency (paper)

  • The numbers in the holographic stripe that runs down the left side of the bill should have the same numbers as the denomination of the bill it is on.

Hold the bill up to the light. You should see:

  • The ghost-like image of the large portrait in the centre of the bill, back and front;
  • The squiggly lines on the front of the bill (appears to the left of the large number) and on the back of the bill form the denomination of the bill.
  • A solid black line running down the width of the bill on the right side.
  • You should be able to feel all the raised ink on the front of the bill in the darker areas.

US currency

  • Watermarks are visible from both sides when held to a light ($5 denominations and higher)
  • Security thread — hold the note to light to see an embedded thread running vertically near the portrait imprinted with text “USA” along with the corresponding denomination, i.e. USA 5, USA TEN, USA TWENTY, USA 50, USA 100 ($5 denominations and higher). These security threads will glow under UV light.
  • Colour shifting ink — tilt the note to see the numerals in the lower right corner on the front of the note shift colours ($10 denominations and higher)

If you suspect someone’s given you a counterfeit bill, politely refuse it, tell them that you suspect that it may be counterfeit, and ask for a different one. Remember, they might not be a criminal — just someone who’s unwittingly come across a shady piece of money.

Make sure you tell police about a possible attempt to pass counterfeit money, even if you’re not sure. Call the non-emergency number at (403) 266-1234.


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Jack Hauen
Jack is a fourth-year UBC student, coordinating editor of The Ubyssey, and two golden retrievers in a human suit.

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