June 7, 2023

Business owners and patrons alike, beware. Your $100 polymer bills could, in fact, be worth nothing, as a number of counterfeit bills have recently been discovered circulating stores in the tri-city area.
Waterloo Regional Police were alerted to the magnitude of the crime in late October after a media release prompted multiple victims of the fraudulent bills to come forward.
“We’ve now increased the number of victims to approximately 22 businesses so far,” said Olaf Heinzel, the public relations co-ordinator for the regional police. Heinzel had known of instances where counterfeit polymer bills were discovered, but never so close to home, as the first fraudulent bills were discovered in the Hespeler Road area of Cambridge.
Since the polymer bills were released, they gained a reputation for being tough, both to damage and copy. However, the recent discoveries of unauthentic bills in circulation have been cause for worry, since the many complex holographs and illusions were designed to make reproduction of the bill nearly impossible.
“Like we’ve seen with many other instances of security, electronic or material, over a period of time criminals will find a way to start manufacturing counterfeit bills that look very close to the actual ones,” Heinzel said.
In addition to working in collaboration with local police forces, the Bank of Canada’s official website states that it offers lessons for those specifically involved in cash handling to identify and intercept counterfeit bills should they be offered as payment.
There are certain ways in which someone working a cash register can identify a potential fraudster, but most attempts aren’t very elaborate. “What they’ll typically do is with a $100 bill, they will go in and buy an item for around $6 or $7 and they’ll get around $90 in real cash back,” Heinzel said.
It is due in part to scams such as this current one that many small businesses have taken to flat out refusing to accept any bills over $50, as getting scammed with $100 bills would hurt their financial success noticeably.
If a customer is suspected of trying to use a fake note, an employee is advised to contact police as soon as possible.
“The community is a very important part of finding and stopping crime,” Heinzel said. “We need to tell the community when something has occurred in order for them to know so that they, in turn, can report if they saw anything.”
Police do not have any suspects, but are looking for two young males driving a navy blue, four-door car. The community is urged to contact the Waterloo Regional Police Fraud Branch at 519-650-8500 if they have any recent information involving possible counterfeit bills. Detailed information on fraudulent bank notes can be found on the Bank of Canada website at www.bankofcanada.ca/banknotes.