Mounties Get on the Trail of Coin Counterfeiter

A Canadian “Toonie” from 2020. Note the security features on the reverse. Foto: Royal Canadian Mint / CoCo CA-2020-0026
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If you ever find yourself in a shop in Canada and the salesperson asks you for a “toonie”, don’t be too surprised by this peculiar term. That’s what Canadians call their $2 coins. It’s a combination of the words “two” and “loonies”, as “loonie” is the name for the 1-dollar coin, which features a common loon. The toonie, on the other hand, shows a polar bear and – of course – the Queen. The bi-metallic coins also feature micro-engravings and latent images to improve counterfeit protection. These security features seem to have paid off, as 10,000 counterfeit toonies were recently identified and seized by the authorities. However, the police do not refer to any of the security features but to a different part of the coin, which seems to make the counterfeits clearly recognisable.

Discovery During Routine Sampling

In the summer of 2021, the Royal Canadian Mint discovered the first of these counterfeit coins through their random sampling process of circulating money. Soon after, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP, the famous Mounties) launched an investigation to identify individuals who were placing these counterfeits into circulation. In the course of this investigation, the RCMP withdrew 10,000 counterfeit coins. Their origin is believed to be in China. The investigation led to a 68-year-old suspect in Richmond Hill, Ontario. The man with a Chinese name has now been charged with uttering and possession of counterfeit currency. His trial is scheduled to begin on 2 June in the Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarket.

A spokesperson of the RCMP commented: “These criminal charges are a reflection of the RCMP’s resolve in preserving the integrity of the Canadian currency system.” The intention is to continue to cooperate with other authorities “to combat illicit efforts that target Canada’s economic system.” The Royal Canadian Mint is also recognisably pleased with this success. A senior corporate security officer is quoted as follows: “The unique features on Canada’s circulation coins make them among the most secure in the world and allowed these counterfeit pieces to be identified and removed from circulation quickly. The Royal Canadian Mint will continue to work closely with financial institutions and the RCMP to ensure the integrity of Canada’s coin supply.”

Photo: Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Telltale Paw

The RCMP believes that there are more counterfeits in circulation and therefore drew the public’s attention to a detail that is said to make the counterfeits recognisable. This detail is the right front paw of the polar bear depicted on the coin. It is flawed in the forgery and is more reminiscent of a claw.


Read more about security features such as micro-engravings and latent images in this article on State-of-the-Art Minting Technology on Cosmos of Collectibles.

Canadians are very proud of their “Mounties”. On Cosmos of Collectibles, you will find coins dedicated to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.