Fake $100 bills circulating in Peel and Durham regions, police warn retailers

Police are warning retailers that 'tis the season for counterfeit currency and fake $100 bills have been reported 17 times in Durham Region.

Peel police have received 50 reports of counterfeit bills recently, Durham police have received 17 reports

If you rub the counterfeit $100 bill between your fingers, the ink flakes off, Durham Regional Police say. Police are telling retailers not to accept bills that look like this. (Durham Regional Police Service)

Police in the Greater Toronto Area are warning retailers that 'tis the season for counterfeit currency and that they should keep an eye out for fake $100 bills.

In Peel Region, police said they've received about 50 reports of counterfeit $100 bills since November. Police in Durham Region said they received 17 reports of fake $100 bills from Oct. 1 to Dec. 10.

"Just be vigilant," Const. Bancroft Wright, spokesperson for Peel Regional Police, said Tuesday. "Check serial numbers."

Wright said the bills that have been seized are made of polymer paper and bear the serial number FKW4346846. The counterfeit currency has turned up at retail stores and when food was delivered in Brampton and Mississauga. 
Check serial numbers and have a good look at currency that looks fake, police say. (Red Deer RCMP)

In the majority of reported cases, retailers accepted the counterfeit bills, then called police when they realized the currency was fake and they were out $100.

Const. George Tudos, spokesperson for Durham Regional Police Service, said the fake bills circulating in Durham Region bear similar serial numbers and police believe they were made by the same manufacturer.

"If you were to rub your fingers on these bills, the ink seems to flake off, leaving just the transparent plastic look underneath," Tudos said Tuesday.

"If you take a few seconds to kind of inspect them properly, you could probably spot the false ones." 
Police say retailers should be aware of the security features of Canadian currency. (Getty Images)

The bills have been accepted at grocery stores, coffee shops, including Tim Hortons and Country Style, movie theatres and toy stores, including Toys "R" Us, and restaurants, including McDonald's.

They have turned up in such areas as Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa, Clarington and the Township of Scugog, Ont.

'Touch, tilt and look'

Police do not yet have any leads on who might be behind the bills, said Tudos.

In the meantime, he recommends retailers follow the advice of the Bank of Canada, which advises to "touch, tilt and look" at the bills to determine if they are counterfeit. 

Here are some further tips for spotting the false currency:

  • The hologram on the $100 bill fades from gold to green when viewed from different angles.
  • Anyone who deals in cash transactions should be aware of the security features of Canadian currency that are intended to deter counterfeiting and identify fake bank notes.
  • Compare a counterfeit bank note with a genuine one of the same denomination, looking for differences, not similarities.
  • Counterfeit bank notes often share the same serial numbers. 
  • If you are given a counterfeit bill, make a note of the person who gave it to you, in order to give a description, and if possible, get a licence number. Call police immediately. Handle the counterfeit note as little as possible to avoid obscuring fingerprints on the bill.

According to the RCMP, which publishes statistics annually on counterfeit money, 17,504 counterfeit bank notes were passed in Canada in 2016, while 3,362 were seized.

Thirty-five per cent of the counterfeit bills passed in Canada in 2016 were $100 bills. Another 36 per cent were $20 bills.

The RCMP also says 22 per cent of all activity involving Canadian counterfeit bank notes passed and seized in 2016 occurred in Ontario.