The government is foiling counterfeiters
by switching from paper to plastic
From an article in The Globe and Mail on the race to fight fake Canadian money, and why they had to buy the material for their new bills from Australia:
The first time Wesley Weber forged a $100 bill, he scanned the image on his home computer, just to see what would happen.
It was late 2000, and the 25-year-old self-professed computer geek from Windsor, Ont., was flat broke and enchanted by the idea of being able to print money himself.
He focused his attention on the $100 bill from the Birds of Canada series – a brown banknote with a picture of a Canada Goose on the back – which was a challenge for most counterfeiters…
…Mr. Weber figured out that if he scanned the Canadian $100 bill on his computer, he could enlarge the image thousands of times the normal size. Using commercially available graphic-design software, he spent weeks correcting the fuzziness of the image, pixel by pixel, making the forgery sharper and more convincing.
Mr. Weber then began researching the best paper to use, shopping around for the right weight and colour to mimic the feel of money, which is made out of cotton fibre. He also needed paper that didn’t glow under UV light, another key trait of banknotes.
He settled on 24-pound Mohawk Super Fine soft-white stock with an eggshell finish – long a favourite of counterfeiters, according to Corporal Tim Laurence of the RCMP’s Integrated Counterfeit Enforcement Team. Because a fake bill only needs to be passed once to profit the counterfeiter, it doesn’t need to be a perfect match; it just needs to be good enough. So the substrate – the material out of which the banknote is made – merely needs to resemble the real thing.
Years later, Canada is revamping its paper currency and replacing it with plastic bills. The $100 polymer bill, introduced in November of 2011, has many security features, but the most important anti-counterfeiting measure is that the bill is made from a special plastic:
The effort to replace Canada’s paper money with polymer notes is rooted in a theory that has been around as long as currency itself: If you can limit access to the material the banknotes are made out of – known as the substrate – you can choke off counterfeiting. To ensure the integrity of its new banknotes, the plastic material for Canada’s revamped money will come from a tightly controlled recipe for polymer developed in Australia…
Read the entire article: Funny money: How counterfeiting led to a major overhaul of Canada’s money, The Globe and Mail>>
– Pay with a new kind of ‘plastic’ Toronto Sun>>