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Saor 05-22-2009 03:37 PM

RCMP make largest counterfeit cash seizure in B.C. history
Four people have been arrested in connection to the largest counterfeit currency lab takedown in B.C. history, the RCMP say.

On May 14, more than $220,000 in fake American and Canadian banknotes were seized in a home in the 8600-block 151B Street in Surrey. Computers, printers and equipment used to produce the money were also taken from the home.

“We’re very confident with this takedown," said Sgt. Tony Farahbakhchian of the RCMP commercial crime section. “I just want to reinforce with the public not to have fear.”

The investigation began in November 2008. Farahbakhchian could not say how police were led to the home because of ongoing investigations.

Richard Thomas McGaw, 30, of Coquitlam, and Jesko Stefan Lindt, 49, of Surrey, were arrested and charged with making and possessing counterfeit banknotes and possession of instruments for making counterfeit banknotes. McGaw is known to police from a previous counterfeit investigation.

A 55-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman were arrested and released on promise to appear in court. Lindt was also released days later on promise to appear in court. Farahbakhchian described the accused as an “organized entity.”

“People involved in a common goal towards criminality and financial reward,” he explained.

The counterfeiters attempted to duplicate the hologram on Canadian bank notes.

“They were not quite finished yet, but from what we’ve seen, they’re good,” Farahbakchian said.

He said sophisticated printers were used to produce the bills.

“Features in these printers will prohibit people from trying to copy banknotes. Some still finds ways to do it,” he said.

Bank of Canada statistics show that from February to March of this year there was a 24-per-cent increase in seized fake $20 bills across the country, a 19-per-cent hike in $50 bills and 15-per-cent increase in $100 bills.

“We’re thrilled, obviously, because we do feel this will put a significant damper on counterfeits in the province,” said Katie Robb, spokeswoman from the Bank of Canada.

Robb said Canadian retailers and the general public lost $3 million last year due to counterfeit money.

B.C. accounted for nine per cent of these notes. Farahbakhchian said counterfeit notes are surfacing in Surrey and across the Lower Mainland.

“What I don’t want to see is people who are refusing to take $100 bills in a store because they’re not aware of the security features,” he said. “Educate yourself. They are 100-per-cent reliable and there should be no reason to not accept $100 bills because you are afraid."

Dave Jones, security consultant for the Downtown Business Improvement Area, said counterfeit bills aren’t a huge problem for businesses in the city’s main tourist centre. Only two or three counterfeits were reported to him in the last few months.

"I’m certainly not hearing much of it. It’s really not on the radar," Jones said.


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