Spotting funny money

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Teens to spearhead currency counterfeit awareness campaign

OTTAWA - A new education initiative was launched on Monday that is aimed at Canadian teenagers and speaks a language they understand - money.

Spotting funny money

OTTAWA - A new education initiative was launched on Monday that is aimed at Canadian teenagers and speaks a language they understand - money.

The Bank of Canada has developed a teaching kit for use in high schools across the country that instructs teens on how to detect counterfeit bills.

At a news conference in Ottawa to launch the new Counterfeit Detection program, the central bank's deputy governor Pierre Duguay said part of the strategy to cut down on counterfeiting is to identify fake bills at the point-of-sale. Stores are where most fake money enters Canada's cash supply, Duguay said.

"Teenagers occupy a large proportion of the cash-handling positions in the retail sector," Duguay said in explaining why Canada's youth are being recruited to help in the battle against counterfeiting.

Some retailers train their staff in counterfeit detection, but not all. With this program, students will have an added skill that will make them attractive to employers and at the same time reduce counterfeiting, he said.

Once they've completed the program, students will receive a certificate stating they know how to spot counterfeit bank notes.

"We believe that through the Counterfeit Detection program, young Canadians can make a significant difference in the fight against counterfeiting now and in the future," said Duguay. "After all, they are the consumers, cashiers and retailers of tomorrow."

The education module, which includes lesson plans for teachers, videos, quizzes and other materials, was originally developed by the Durham District School Board and integrated into the Grade 10 civics course.

The Bank of Canada has now partnered with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other police agencies to produce and promote the product, and they are encouraging school boards to order the kit and include it in their curriculum. It is free of charge to schools.

Michiko Bown-Kai, a Grade 12 student from Whitby, Ont., said she enjoyed learning how to spot fake cash when it was taught in her civics class.

"It was a really fun and interactive unit," she said. "We got to do hands-on activities, and by the end of it we all came away feeling like it was a really important thing to check our money."

Bown-Kai said she was excited to pass on her new knowledge to her mother, who owns a business. One of the course requirements is that the students teach three other people how to spot counterfeit bills.

Some of the security features of real bills that the students are trained to recognize are a special watermark that is visible when the bill is held up to a light, a vertical metallic stripe down one side that contains two-toned maple leaves and coloured numerals. A $20 bill, for example, has metallic dashes that shift from gold to green when the bill is tilted.

"Every Canadian has to use money and a lot of us are getting part-time jobs and working the cash so it's something that us teens especially, we like to have this skill," said Bown-Kai.

Organizations: Bank of Canada, Durham District School Board, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Geographic location: OTTAWA, Canada, Whitby

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