Counterfeiters take crude crack at Canada’s new polymer bank bills

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew

As the Bank of Canada puts its newest $20 polymer bank note into circulation, an official has revealed counterfeiters have been trying to forge the plastic money.

Manuel Parreira, the central bank's regional representative in Toronto, told the Toronto Sun that crude attempts have been made to reproduce some bills, though he would not say whether these involved the $100 bills released last November or the $50 notes put into circulation in March.

There have been "three attempts on those counterfeit bills in Canada," Parreira told the Sun, adding "they're very easy to detect."

The bank launched the polymer version of $20 bill, the most widely used denomination, on Wednesday.

Polymer notes have been introduced in part "to stay ahead of the counterfeiters," Parreira said.

[ Related: Canada's new plasic $50, $100 bills melting in the heat ]

Because it's so widely used, the bank considers the $20 the most important launch so far, currency department official Gerry Gaetz said at the national unveiling at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. The back of the bill features an image of the National Vimy Memorial.

The material used for the currency is produced in Australia, which has been using polymer bank notes since 1988.

While the bank has stressed the new bills' anti-counterfeiting security features, it's also been trying to deal with claims the plastic money is easily damaged, rips and melts if exposed to heat.

In a video shot by The Canadian Press, a bank technician demonstrated the polymer bills undergoing punishing tests, including extreme crumpling, freezing, boiling and tumbling with stones for hours and days.

Parreira told the Sun tests have shown the notes can survive temperatures as high as 140 C and as low as -75 C.

"We're confident that they will last in all sorts of environments," he said.

CTV News noted some business owners have also complained the plastic bills are undetectable in some money counters and ATMs.

[ Related: Durability of Canada's new plastic currency questioned ]

The bank plans to introduce the $10 and $5 notes by the end of next year.