Skip to content

Counterfeit toonies turning up in Sault Ste. Marie

A local store owner posted photos of the bogus coins on social media to raise awareness; Sault police confirm that fake toonies have been found in the city
Can you tell the difference? The coin on the left is genuine Canadian currency, while the one on the right is counterfeit, says Vintage Games 'N Junque owner Mike Turcotte.

A local store owner was going through the change in his cash register when he came across a two dollar coin that didn't quite look right.

Mike Turcotte owns Vintage Games N Junque on Queen Street and, among many other things in his shop, he buys and sells bills and coins.

At first glance, the 2012 two dollar coin Turcotte found looks like a regular toonie — a gold-coloured centre surrounded by a silver ring — but the closer he looked, the less it added up.

Turcotte said he will often look closer at any 2012 two dollar coin because the Royal Canadian Mint changed the design up mid-year and added security features. As a result, some 2012 toonies are more rare and can sell for higher than two dollars to collectors.

Instead, the coin he found had some red flags: the edges are rougher than a regular coin, and the designs more recessed. But the biggest tell for Turcotte was a dollar symbol where the number two should be on the tails side, and a portrait of the Queen of England on the heads side that does not look very much like Her Majesty at all.

"It seems crazy," he said. "You would think it would cost at least a dollar for someone to make one of these, but I guess if they made enough of them it would add up and be worth it."

In the same way, Turcotte said the counterfeit coins don't seem like they would hurt, but enough of them coming through the till could have a disastrous effect on a small business.

Turcotte posted photos of the coins on social media in hopes of raising awareness they are circulating in the city.

Any type of fraud negatively impacts business, said Rory Ring, CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce.

"It is a cash loss, and the business must pay employees and the suppliers who were part of the transaction," said Ring. "These criminals are getting more sophisticated as they apply new technology to their schemes."

In May of 2022, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police seized approximately 10,000 counterfeit toonies and arrested a Richmond Hill man, charging him with uttering counterfeit money, as well as possession of counterfeit money.

RCMP said at the time it suspects the coins originated in China and could be best distinguished by a split toe in the right front paw of the polar bear on the tails side of the coin. The coin found in the Sault by Turcotte does not match the design of those coins found last year by RCMP.

Asked if Sault Ste. Marie Police Service is aware of counterfeit coins circulating in the community, department spokesperson Lincoln Louttit said yes. In fact, a person who was arrested about a week ago was found to have a small number of them.

Louttit recommends people who find the counterfeit coins to contact the police. From there, suspected counterfeit currency is sent to the RCMP and, if confirmed to be counterfeit, is destroyed.

What's next?

If you would like to apply to become a Verified reader Verified Commenter, please fill out this form.


Kenneth Armstrong

About the Author: Kenneth Armstrong

Kenneth Armstrong is a news reporter and photojournalist who regularly covers municipal government, business and politics and photographs events, sports and features.
Read more