The RCMP is advising businesses in the area to be wary of any paper currency they may be taking in, as a number of counterfeits have been detected in the area.
Since July 26, there have been 23 complaints of counterfeit money being passed or attempting to be passed throughout a number of communities in the Okanagan and B.C. Interior, from as far south as Osoyoos and as far north as Kamloops.
However, for some business owners like Ciara Duignan, owner of Pentagon Boardshop, the counterfeit bills don’t cause that much of a concern.
“I’m not worrying,” she said. “Most of our business is done through the debit machine these days. Any old $100s or $50s we check with our scanner and if I do feel concerned about a certain customer I check the $20s.”
Duignan said that over the last five years, she’s only lost $100 due to the passing of counterfeit bills, but she added that “it’s like losing double the product, because you’re losing the product and losing the money.”
Counterfeit currency costs the Canadian economy much more than $100, however. RCMP statistics indicate that last year alone, 52,217 counterfeit bills were passed, meaning they were accepted by businesses, costing a grand total of $2,612,070.
Of the bills passed last year, 85 per cent were either $20s or $100s. The statistics also indicate that 20 per cent of counterfeit bills in Canada were passed or seized in B.C. Quebec had 37 per cent of bills passed or seized and had Ontario 29 per cent of the same.
However, last year represents the lowest number of bills passed in the 11 years the RCMP statistics tracked. The data indicates counterfeiting hit a peak in 2004, when 552,980 counterfeit bills were passed.
A number of new security features on all bills has drastically helped lower the counterfeit rate, but they don’t do much good if they aren’t checked, said Jim Porteous, safety co-ordinator for Penticton Community Policing. Porteous said the people attempting to pass the fraudulent bills don’t do so at random.
“What they’ll do is shop around a store, do some pre-shopping type thing and see what kind of checking people do before they start to pass off these types of bills,” he said.
By being vigilant and checking the security features the bills have, Porteous said, a counterfeit can easily be spotted. He added that he would be willing to go to any business that wanted training on how to identify a counterfeit. The training takes between 10 and 15 minutes.
For more information on counterfeiting and how to identify fake bills, visit http://www.bankofcanada.ca/banknotes/counterfeit-prevention.