West Shore RCMP are warning local businesses to be on the lookout for counterfeit currency and take the time to make sure staff members are aware of security features on bills.
“We believe more businesses may have fallen victim,” said detachment spokesperson Const. Alex Berube. “There is a strong possibility there are other bills in circulation.”
Police seized over $60,000 in Canadian and U.S. currency, along with instruments used to manufacture counterfeit money, after executing a search warrant at a home on Red Alder Court in Langford last week.
“This was $60,000 destined for local and regional businesses,” Berube said, adding that at least nine different businesses were hit. “Business owners and retailers aren’t necessarily aware of the security features.”
The warrant was the result of a 10-month investigation that began in February. But Berube said police have not finished their investigation. “We expect further charges to be laid,” he said.
Deborah Lynne Thomas, 32, faces nine counts of uttering, using or exporting counterfeit money. No charges involving the production of the currency have been laid.
Berube said Thomas was not previously known to police.
Investigators had no information on whether she could be facing counterfeiting charges in the U.S. But West Shore RCMP has partnered with the U.S. Secret Service to confirm details involving the counterfeiting of American currency.
Of the seized bills, Berube said “some of them can be hard to differentiate … Some of them are quite obvious.” A number of the bills were printed on letter size sheets of paper and their colouring was off. He noted the feel and cutting of the paper was also off, and certain security features were missing from a number of the bills. There were some real $5 bills seized, in various stages of having their magnetic strip burned off.
Berube said some of the security features were removed from real, smaller bills and applied to fake ones.
The seized Canadian currency ranged from $5 bills to a $1,000 bill, while the U.S. currency was all $20 bills.
West Shore RCMP have received in excess of 100 complaints about counterfeit money this year. Last year in Canada there were over 62,000 counterfeit Canadian banknotes passed, of which just under 14,000 were seized. The most popular forgeries were $20 bills.
Police urge anyone who believes they may have received fake currency, or has any information regarding the case, to contact them at 250-474-2264 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.
To learn more about phoney bills, go to bankofcanada.ca/banknotes or call 1-888-513-8212.