Phoney toonies and you

Creative strategies to remove counterfeit currency from circulation

The "split toe" on the polar bear signifies a fake coin. (Kristen Frier)

The “split toe” on the polar bear signifies a fake coin. (Kristen Frier)

You go to buy a coffee. You order your usual: venti traditional misto, please use soy milk with two blonde shots affogato and ristretto. Also, three vanilla pumps at the very bottom, then add the coffee after. 

But instead of being handed what I assume to be your delicious coffee, you are given one of those little clappy hand things as a participation prize at the PNE. You’ve been duped!

Hidden within the exact change, tip not included, that you paid with was in fact a counterfeit toonie. 

Rather than a regular polar bear paw on the toonie, there is instead a ‘split toe’ that looks like he was nibbling his nails. But you’re not completely out of luck, for the government’s response has been to form a parallel economy in response to these coins. 

Rather than dealing with the hassle of replacing the coins, vendors are now authorized to give out fair prizes instead to avoid destabilizing the circulation and still remove the offending coins.

So instead of receiving whatever small item you attempted to purchase with the worthless coin, you will instead receive an equally worthless participation prize for assisting in the RCMP’s quest to remove all the counterfeit coins from circulation. Look at you go, citizen!

Other methods were examined for this endeavour, the easiest being to arrest any persons caught attempting to defraud their local coffee shop or dollar store with counterfeit currency. While this would have been fair and legal, it’s a lot of work to process that many ne’er-do-wells through the justice system. 

Another way to plant officers in at-risk locations and hand out citations to pay fines for the counterfeit coins. This ran a similar risk of people trying to fight the charges and wasting valuable court time.

One strategy that almost made it through was to give vendors water pistols to douse any customers that attempted to defraud their businesses. This was rejected as it has the possibility of creating a safety hazard with excessive puddles of water in high traffic areas.

A similar tactic that was proposed, and most similar to the current initiative, was to use fairground rubber slapping hands to slingshot customers that were in possession of counterfeit currency. This was also rejected as it could give rise to employees (rightfully) slapping rude customers under the guise of having found a false coin. This plan, however, served as the basis for taking fake currency and giving worthless prizes.

Instead, it was decided that this flagrant violation of law would be overlooked in exchange for judicial efficiency. So when you look at your hand clapped and think you’ve been stiffed, think again! You have actually narrowly avoided being thrown into prison for 14 years under Article 452 of the Canadian Criminal Code, you rotten scoundrel you.

So rather than making a fuss, take your little clapper and head on to where the rest of your day takes you. Keep it on your nightstand, or whatever you keep in your wallet, as a reminder to always check your coins and your bills for any counterfeits floating about.