Detecting fake bills easy and quick

Bank experts, Nanaimo RCMP discuss how to identify counterfeit Canadian currency

The security features on the new $100 polymer bill.

The security features on the new $100 polymer bill.

Determining if a bill is counterfeit takes only a second, if you know what you’re looking for.

So says Farid Salji, an analyst with the Bank of Canada, and he’s showing people how.

Last year B.C. took the lead in the number of counterfeit Canadian bank notes passed – 37 per cent of approximately $2.6 million worth of fraudulent notes passed countrywide. Quebec took second place with 26 per cent.

“The Canucks couldn’t do it, but unfortunately the counterfeiters did,” said Salji.

Salji was in Nanaimo Wednesday to educate business owners on bank note verification and security features, what to do if they receive a suspected counterfeit note and to show people the new $100 polymer notes, which will be issued in November.

Counterfeit $100, $20 and $10 bills have circulated around the Island in recent months, including more than a dozen instances in Nanaimo since the beginning of June.

Salji said detecting these fraudulent notes can be done quickly and simply by holding the bill at chest level and tilting it toward you or holding it up to light.

Three security features will become visible on a real bill – a ghost image in a blank space near the centre of the bill, a solid line running through the denomination of the bill on the right side of the front of the bill, and a number puzzle beside the ghost image, which appears as a series of irregular marks when viewed straight on, but becomes a number when tilted or held up to the light.

No counterfeit note will have all three of these features, said Salji.

He also cautions people against other modes of verification – raised ink wears over time, some fraudulent notes mimic the ultraviolet feature to the point where people are fooled when viewing the bills under a black light, and both real and fake bills can leave an ink smear when rubbed on a piece of paper.

If you come across a suspect note, give the bill back to the person offering it, ask for a different form of payment, advise the person to check the note with police, then call the police and inform them about a possible attempt to pass counterfeit money, said Salji.

“You don’t have to accept it, but at the same time don’t put yourself in a volatile situation,” added Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman.

Try to remember what the person looks like and any other details to pass on to police, he said.

Since June 1, police have recorded 15 instances of counterfeit bills in Nanaimo.

O’Brien said most of the occurrences are at independent, standalone locations where a person can more easily escape if the fraud is detected.

He recommends people educate their employees on what to look for and not allow themselves to be bullied into accepting a suspicious note.

New bank notes printed on polymer and with enhanced security features are on the way, said Salji.

A new $100 will be issued in November, a $50 note next spring and the $5 and $10 bills will follow in 2013.

The primary reason is to stay ahead of counterfeiting, but the notes are also more durable – the Bank of Canada estimates they will last two and a half times longer.

The new bills feature raised ink, a large transparent window and metallic images. The bills are easy to verify and difficult for counterfeiters to simulate.

For more information on the new bank notes and their security features, please visit



u 90–per cent decrease in number of counterfeit bills passed in Canada between 2004 and 2010; from $13 million to $2.6 million

u 90–per cent of all counterfeit bills in 2007 were $5, $10 and $20 notes

u 37–counterfeit notes are passed in Canada for every million genuine notes

u 47–per cent of counterfeit notes passed in 2010 were $20 bills and 35 per cent were $100 bills

Just Posted

District of Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain, left, and Snaw-Naw-As Chief Gordon Edwards sign a memorandum of understanding outside Snaw-Naw-As Market on Friday, June 18. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Lantzville and Snaw-Naw-As sign memorandum of understanding

District and First Nation create joint working group

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Tilray announces new line of products offering more inexpensive choices for medical cannabis users. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo-based Tilray launches new medical cannabis product line

Symbios brand products offered at ‘better price point’ for medical cannabis products

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

The B.C. Ministry of Education has announced close to $44 million for the province’s schools for COVID-19 recovery. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school stakeholders say COVID-19 recovery funding can make a difference

B.C. Ministry of Education announces it expects a ‘near-normal’ return to class in September

Regional District of Nanaimo is looking to repair sewage pipe in the Hammond Bay Road area, which was corroded by gas. (Black Press file)
Corroded sewer pipe along Nanaimo’s Hammond Bay Road will cost $5.5 million to fix

Pipe replacement and reinforcement part of $6.9-million infrastructure project

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Most Read