Volume 92, Issue 31

Thursday, October 29, 1998

behind closed doors


Faking it may get harder in London

By John Intini
Gazette Staff

The London police are hoping counterfeit workshops planned for early next month will make London merchants more aware when their customers are faking it.

London police Det. Sgt. Brian Young, the officer in charge of the program, said he has spent a great deal of time dealing with fraudulent currency. His goal in initiating the program is to make store owners more educated with respect to counterfeit currency.

"People just don't know what to look for," Young said. "Counterfeit money still seems to be a myth, but is a big problem that has to be stopped. Educating local store owners will hopefully deter possible offenders."

According to police statistics, 429 occurrences of counterfeit bills were reported in London in 1997, totalling 741 notes and $15,605. Although the occurrences have decreased this year, totaling 298, the $15,000 mark has already been surpassed.

"We don't have an increase in notes but rather an increase in the total money being passed," Young said. "The most popular bill has been the hundred this year, which can really add up."

Barbara Braun, assistant marketing director at White Oaks Mall, said they have not had that big a problem with counterfeit money.

The passing of counterfeit bills, with knowledge of its fraudulence, is an indictable offence and carries a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.

John Palmer, professor of economics at Western, said the production and circulation of counterfeit money has two detrimental impacts on the economy. The initial impact is a rise in inflation. However, Palmer feels the long-term impact is much more detrimental to small businesses.

"Counterfeit money increases the cost of doing business," he said. "Businesses have to go to workshops and find ways to pay off bad debts which ultimately reduces profitability."

According to Mark Wellington, manager of the Wave, notices have been posted and warnings passed down from the University Students' Council's accounting office, but he has yet to experience a problem with fake money.

"We haven't seen one in a couple of years," Wellington said. "If accounting sees one in any of the departments anywhere on campus the alert goes out and notices are placed at all registers."

Young said there are some key things to look for with respect to counterfeit bills. The gold label on bills of the denomination of $20 or above should change colour.

"The technology has increased greatly over the last little while, making it easy to make money within your own home or even a small motel room," Young said. "However, on $20 bills, technology has been unable to make gold labels change colours, which clearly separates them from the real thing."

The police workshops run throughout the month of November and are available to any interested retail establishments.

To Contact The News Department: gazette.news@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998