Saint John — An early morning raid by police at a Duke Street townhouse has led to the arrest of several men accused of operating a counterfeit currency operation.
The scheme employed a complex array of industrial equipment to transform raw materials into alloys that were melted, pressed and stamped into precise replicas of the Canadian penny, these rolled by hand and used to attempt to purchase goods and services throughout the city’s Uptown.
Though pennies are no longer actively circulated in Canada, they remain legal tender and as such are openly accepted by banks and retailers.
Retail clerks helped identify the suspects, who were witnessed during what police are calling a “lavish spending spree” at Giant Tiger and a “significant meat acquisition” at the No Frills on Fairville Boulevard.
Amber Smith encountered one of the accused at Blush, where she works as a private dancer.”I told him that if he’d like a dance he just needs to slip 20 dollars into my thong. He managed to shove a dozen coin rolls in there before I slapped him. What a freak. Couldn’t he just pay with bills or Bitcoins like a normal person?”
At a glance, the bogus coins are indistinguishable from their authentic counterparts. Peter Marshall of the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network has examined the imitations, pointing out discrepancies on their front face including “… slight inaccuracies in the shape of the coins’ iconic leaves.”
“Also,” he added, “the likeness of the queen has been replaced by that of Rita MacNeil for some reason.”
Police are appealing to the public for help in order to gauge how widely the knockoffs have circulated. At their earliest convenience, New Brunswick residents are urged to carefully examine all pennies still in their possession, and to report any remotely suspicious coins to the police or the Magnetic Hill Zoo. “Don’t over-think it — just call. That’s why we’re here,” pleaded Marshall.
The suspects were well known to the CACN for prior deeds. According to Marshall: “These guys sharpened their teeth forging Second Cup loyalty cards and fake vouchers for a free week at GoodLife. Free lattes and Jazzercise are small potatoes, but in counterfeiting the penny, they’ve moved to the big leagues, and they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
“Why couldn’t they just grow weed like everyone else on Duke Street?” added Marshall.
Bail has been set at 50,000 pennies.