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BEHIND THE SCENES: Sault business owner sounding the alarm over bogus toonies

SooToday's Ken Armstrong takes us behind the scenes

Vintage Games N Junque owner Mike Turcotte came across a suspicious 2012 toonie in Sault Ste. Marie while sorting through his cash register earlier this month. Upon closer inspection, Turcotte noticed irregularities in its design, including rough edges, recessed designs, and a dollar symbol instead of the number two on the tails side. He also observed a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II that did not resemble her usual image. Turcotte shared photos of the counterfeit coins on social media to raise awareness of their circulation.

Counterfeit coins can have significant repercussions for businesses, leading to financial losses. Rory Ring, CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce, emphasized the negative impact of fraud on businesses, stating that they must absorb the cash loss and fulfill their financial obligations to employees and suppliers involved in the transactions. Criminals producing counterfeit money are becoming more sophisticated by employing new technologies in their schemes. In a previous case, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) seized approximately 10,000 counterfeit toonies and arrested an individual on charges of uttering counterfeit money and possession of counterfeit money.

While the specific origin of the counterfeit coins found by Turcotte remains unclear, the RCMP suspected that the previously seized counterfeit toonies originated in China. They identified a distinguishing feature as a split toe in the right front paw of the polar bear design on the tails side. Although the coin discovered by Turcotte does not match this design, it highlights the ongoing issue of counterfeit coins circulating within communities. The Sault Ste. Marie Police Service confirmed their awareness of counterfeit coins circulating locally and advised individuals who come across such currency to report it to the police. Suspected counterfeit currency is then forwarded to the RCMP for verification and subsequent destruction if confirmed to be counterfeit.

Video summary:

In Sault Ste. Marie, business owner Mike Turcotte recently discovered a peculiar toonie in his cash register. Upon closer inspection, he realized that the two dollar coin was counterfeit.  The Vintage Games N Junque owner shared a post on social media, particularly on Facebook, alerting other business owners and residents in the Sault about the circulating counterfeit coins. Turcotte explained that as a buyer and seller of various items, including banknotes and vintage coins, he immediately noticed something was off about the coin. The counterfeit toonie had extra shine and higher ridges, which initially led Turcotte to believe it was a high-relief coin worth more money. When SooToday reporter Ken Armstrong had the chance to examine the coin, he had similar thoughts, noting the sharpness of the edges. Although it may go unnoticed in a pocket, the expertise of Turcotte raised red flags.

Discussing the motivation behind producing these fake coins and whether it's actually profitable for criminals, Armstrong mentions a previous arrest by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in which a man from Richmond Hill was found in possession of 10,000 counterfeit toonies. While the amount of any individual coin may seem insignificant, that grand total overtime ends up equating to $20,000. Despite the red flags, such as the dollar sign and the Queen's image resembling Robin Williams in "Mrs. Doubtfire," it is easy for unsuspecting individuals to accept these coins as genuine.

If someone suspects they have encountered a counterfeit coin, Lincoln Louttit, a spokesperson for the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service, advises them to inform the police. The suspected counterfeit currency will be sent to the RCMP for verification, and if confirmed as counterfeit, it will be destroyed. Although it may seem excessive for a two dollar coin, it helps track the origin and circulation of these counterfeit coins in the local economy. Being vigilant and reporting any suspicions to the police is a recommended course of action.