Volume 96, Issue 73
Friday, February 7, 2003

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The joy of spending fake money

By Jillian Van Acker

Gazette Staff

There's no such thing as a free lunch – unless you pay with counterfeit money.

"This past year, there have been 11 occurrences of counterfeit money reported from cash operations on campus," said Const. Wendy McGowan, spokesperson for the University Police Department.

McGowan said it is important for students to know what to look for because, when they are identified for passing counterfeit bills, they are a suspect until they answer questions as to where they obtained the bills.

"Counterfeit appears everywhere," said Sgt. Moshe Gordon, counterfeit co-ordinator with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for the province of Ontario. "Forty billion dollars are produced annually [at the Canadian Mint] and $5 million [worth] of counterfeit is turned in to the RCMP."

Gordon added people cannot tell the difference between real notes and counterfeit, making it necessary to educate people on what to look for in a genuine note.

"You're chances of getting a counterfeit bill [are] one in 10,000," said Ginette Crew, senior analyst for the Bank of Canada. "The best defense is to verify the security features."

Crew said there were fake $100 bills in circulation in 2001, but their appearance has subsided dramatically. There are less counterfeit $100 bills now because the public has become more thorough in verifying them, she said.

"The $10 bill is now the most common denomination being counterfeited," Crew said. "Counterfeiters are counting on the fact that [people] do not verify [their] notes."

Gordon said younger people tend to use cash because they do not have credit cards, and, therefore, increased awareness is needed. People need to be aware they can also get counterfeits from cash machines, he said.

"Most people believe that the Bank of Canada stock the machines, but it is either Brinks or the banks that stock them," Gordon said. "Getting cash from a machine does not mean it isn't counterfeit."

"It's been commonly suggested that counterfeit is more [prevalent] in bars because they are dimly lit," Crew said.

Gordon said the only way to ensure a bill is not a counterfeit is to verify all the security measures, as some verification devices – like black lights – do not always detect a fake note.

"People can always get information from the Bank of Canada, such as pamphlets and videos on security features," Gordon said.

McGowan suggested giving the UPD a call to establish whether a note is counterfeit or not, if a student is ever in doubt of a bills authenticity.

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2002 THE GAZETTE