A number of Canadian counterfeit $100 bills have been identified and seized, following an investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). As a result of the investigation, known as Project OCedarwood, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Trans-National Serious & Organized Crime Section (TSOC) charged three individuals.
In June of 2022, the RCMP GTA-TSOC received information from the Loss Prevention Department at Home Depot that a group of individuals attended various retailers and purchased goods with the use of suspected counterfeit $100 bills. Upon further investigation, the RCMP determined that this organized group targeted large box store retailers to pass the counterfeit bills. The accused purchased store merchandise with counterfeit bills. Subsequently, the accused would return the merchandise at a separate retail location to obtain a full refund on the initial purchase.
The RCMP investigation established that the counterfeit $100 bills were passed throughout the GTA and other areas of Ontario, along the Highway 401 corridor between Belleville and London, and North to Barrie and South to Hamilton. The seized counterfeit $100 bills were created to simulate a genuine $100 bill. Although the counterfeit $100 bills were quite sophisticated in an attempt to replicate current bank note security features, these counterfeit bills can be distinguished from a genuine due to various print defects.
Raj Kirubananthan (age 31) of Markham, Ontario; Jessica Mitchell (age 38) of Belleville, Ontario; and Bleu Lawrence (age 28) of Burlington, Ontario; have been charged with the following offences:
- Uttering counterfeit money, contrary to Section 452 of the Criminal Code;
- Possession of counterfeit money, contrary to Section 450 of the Criminal Code;
- Possession of property obtained by crime, contrary to Section 354 of the Criminal Code;
- Laundering the proceeds of crime, contrary to Section 462.31 of the Criminal Code; and
- Conspiracy to commit offences, contrary to Section 465 of the Criminal Code.
Arrest warrants were issued for Mr. Kirubananthan, Ms. Mitchell, and Ms. Lawrence.
"The RCMP is committed to working with the Bank of Canada, and our policing partners, to combat illicit efforts that target Canada's economic system." - Supt. Ann Koenig, District Commander of the GTA-TSOC Section.
"The Bank of Canada would like to remind the public that financial loss from a counterfeit note can be significant for individuals and businesses alike. Currently, the number of counterfeits in circulation in Canada remains low with bank note security features continuing to demonstrate they are reliable, quick and easy to use. Furthermore, knowing the security features on a bank note allows you to detect a counterfeit at a glance and protect yourself from fraud." – Mr. Manuel Parreira, Bank of Canada Regional Director.
The RCMP would like especially thank their policing partners from DRPS, PRPS, OPP, HRPS, WRPS, and Belleville PS for their assistance in this investigation.
Law enforcement agencies work diligently to make our communities a safer place to live. Your assistance in remaining vigilant and informing us of any suspicious activities will enhance our effectiveness. If you have any information in relation to counterfeit money, suspect that you are in possession of counterfeit money, or believe someone has attempted to pass along counterfeit money to you, please contact your local police, the Ontario RCMP at 1-800-387-0020 or anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), at any time.