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Counterfeit currency

Counterfeit activity in Canada

Although counterfeit banknotes make up a very small percentage of all banknotes in circulation, advances in technology have made counterfeiting easier and more economical.

In 2004, Canada experienced record high concentrations of counterfeit notes being passed into circulation.

In 2006, the RCMP adopted Economic Integrity as a new strategic priority that focused on preventing, detecting and deterring crimes that affect the Canadian economy. Using an integrated approach, the Bank of Canada, the RCMP (ICET) and other law enforcement agencies, worked cooperatively through enforcement and education to reduce counterfeit currency levels in Canada. These efforts have resulted in a marked decrease in counterfeit Canadian currency, which has fallen to historical 10-year lows.

Counterfeit statistics

Despite lower levels in counterfeit activity, it is still important for Canadians to be diligent in authenticating their money.

The National Anti-Counterfeiting Bureau (NACB) is located at the RCMP Forensic Laboratory in Ottawa. The NACB is the central repository for all counterfeit currency in Canada. All suspect bank notes are analyzed at the NACB to determine their authenticity. The NACB also maintains extensive statistical data that aids in establishing counterfeit trends and links associated with counterfeit occurrences.

Counterfeit Analysis Program

The Counterfeit Analysis Program (CAP) is a support service that operates under the guidance of the RCMP Commercial Crime Branch. The program provides counterfeit currency intelligence and analytical support to Canadian law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation of counterfeit currency offences. CAP personnel work closely with the National Anti-Counterfeiting Bureau and the Bank of Canada to identify regional and national trends and areas of concentrated counterfeit currency activity.

Check to protect — know your money

Even with new technology, no counterfeiter is able to produce an exact duplicate of a genuine bank note — a counterfeit is always an inferior copy of the original. At first glance, a good counterfeit looks like the real deal. But if you know what to look for — and feel for — it only takes a few seconds to detect a fake. Read more about Canadian banknote security features at the Bank of Canada.

What to do if you think you have a counterfeit banknote

When dealing with someone who is attempting to pass counterfeit bank notes, cash handlers must ensure their own safety first.

  • Be especially careful during busy periods as this is when counterfeit notes are more likely to be passed.
  • Pay particular attention to customers who pay with banknotes of much higher denomination than is needed.
  • If possible, keep the suspicious banknote and record all relevant information. (denomination, serial number, etc.)
  • Contact your local police force.
  • Record the details about the circumstances and the person(s) who gave the suspect note. (e.g. time, context, physical descriptions, licence plate, vehicles, etc.)
  • Give the suspicious banknote to the police and request a receipt. If the note is genuine, it will be returned to you.
  • Remember, someone passing a counterfeit banknote may not be aware of it. He or she could be the innocent victim of a crime.


  • The Bank of Canada is the only institution legally authorized to issue Canadian bank notes.
  • $46 billion dollars worth of Canadian banknotes are currently in circulation. The most frequently used note is the $20 denomination.
  • Cash remains the preferred method of payment for transactions under $25 and the second-most commonly used method of payment for transactions of $26-$100.
  • While victims of credit card fraud are usually protected from financial loss by the issuer of their card, the Bank of Canada provides no such protection for someone who accepts a counterfeit banknote.
  • Sometimes, the losses suffered by victims, consumers or retailers, can be substantial. These losses force businesses to increase their prices, which ultimately costs all Canadians.
  • Large scale counterfeit currency activity in Canada is usually facilitated by organized crime groups involved in other criminal activities including, weapons offences, drugs and identity theft.
  • Possession, use or creation of counterfeit currency is an indictable offence punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Report it

Preventing currency counterfeiting requires a cooperative approach. You can help safeguard Canada's national currency by becoming more familiar with banknote security features. Report instances of counterfeit currency to your local law enforcement agency. We must all work together to deter this crime.

Check to Protect — Bank of Canada

US Counterfeit notes — US Secret Service

Report — Counterfeit Currency In Canada (2007)