Counterfeiters caught and charged

Two people have been charged with counterfeit fraud after they were caught passing bogus bills at a south Regina business. Photo by Joseph Bernacki.

Sounds to me like the counterfeit blues have got you by the throat.”

The written lyrics of Corb Lund’s 2005 recording speak to recent criminal developments after two people were charged with counterfeit fraud at a local Regina business.

The incident occurred in the 4500 block of Gordon Road in the Grasslands shopping complex, located in the south end of Regina. Elizabeth Popowich, spokesperson for Regina Police Service (RPS), elaborated on this timeless crime.

“The police aren’t called in often for a counterfeit call in progress,” Popowich said.

“Regina is a commercial banking centre for a number of major banks. What happens is we get reports that they’ve detected counterfeit bank notes among their deposits.”

The Bank of Canada’s website states: “Counterfeiting not only causes a financial loss to whoever gets stuck with it, it can also seriously undermine public confidence in our currency.”

Although it’s a decades-old crime, the motivation to make free money for criminals still remains.

“It isn’t unusual to find suspects are from another place. People have success with it in a market for a little while and then they move on,” Popowich said.

The suspects were charged with passing counterfeit U.S. currency. The business noticed $20 bills with identical serial numbers and this raised attention for RPS to take action. In terms of equipment seized, “a high quality printer in the suspects’ hotel room is cause for alarm,” said Popowich.

Popowich said there are things to consider before a cash transaction.

“Employees need to know that they are not obliged to accept any bill if they believe it is counterfeit, you don’t have to complete the transaction,” Popowich said. “If you accept a counterfeit bill and use it, you can be criminally charged.”

A restaurant owner in Grasslands, who wishes to remain anonymous, said crimes like this affect the working class.

“It’s certainly disappointing as a number of our businesses are locally owned and that hurts the owners as individuals,” said the owner, who has been operating the business for five years. “It’s frustrating how they are able to make the currency sophisticated enough despite the complicated nature of our currency.

“You survive hundreds of transactions a day, several years at that rate, and you sort of become numb to looking until something bad happens and it reminds you to be more vigilant.”

Rikki Bear and Phillip Vanduzee appeared in provincial court Oct 26 and face up to 25 charges, including identity fraud and possession of counterfeit equipment.

Joseph Bernacki

I am a third year journalism student at the University of Regina. Growing up in Winnipeg I hosted a country music show for two years on FM Radio. I share a great interest in current events, sports and business affairs. My dream job would be to work as a sports broadcaster in Chicago.

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