Businesses may have been stung by teenage counterfeiters 

A recent influx of high quality counterfeit bills circulating around Whistler has prompted some local businesses to take extraordinary action.

In some fast-paced environments where cashiers do not have the time to inspect every bill, businesses have stopped taking $10 bills altogether.

A 15-year-old Whistler secondary student was arrested on March 2 for allegedly making and distributing counterfeit $10 bills with the old design. On March 6, a ring of Richmond high school students were arrested for allegedly turning out copies of new $10 bills on an ink-jet printer. The youths, aged 12 to 18, allegedly charged other students $10 for $30 in counterfeit currency.

According to Jody Wright, the Manager of Customer Service for the Marketplace TD Canada Trust branch, they have collected more than $500 in counterfeit bills spotted by tellers in the last few months.

"Definitely it’s up," he says. "We saw mostly $10s in the last month, and every now and then we’ll see a $50 or a $20. We definitely know where they’re coming from – they’re doing it on advanced printers, at school or at home."

According to Wright the fakes are easy to spot for people who work around money, and the banks continue to train staff to be on the lookout for new counterfeit variations. He doesn’t believe the bank has accepted any counterfeit money.

Bank customers, on the other hand, have not been as lucky. According to Wright, forgers and bill-passers target Whistler because businesses routinely employ foreign workers that are not as familiar with Canadian currency, and are less likely to spot phoney bills.

"I think that people would also be less likely to second guess a $10. A counterfeit $20 wouldn’t have been as successful, and people look at $50s pretty hard," he says. "Also counterfeiting the old $10s was also successful because after a while people forget what they look like."

Wright says that the number of counterfeit $10 bills turning up has almost completely tapered off since the arrest of the individual in Whistler and the ring in Richmond, although he doesn’t doubt that more are probably floating around out there.

Although it’s concerning that high school students are capable of producing counterfeit bills capable of fooling cashiers, Wright says counterfeit bills are less of a concern these days than counterfeited cheques.

The new $10 bills have more security features compared to the old bills, and TD Canada Trust has stocked up on a brochure by the Bank of Canada called Detecting Counterfeit Currency to help their clients.

The local Royal Bank branch has also experienced an increase in counterfeit activity as of late, and has the brochure readily available to customers and clients.

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