NEWS

'Sophisticated' Quebec counterfeiting ring busted

05/24/2012 01:00 EDT | Updated 07/24/2012 05:12 EDT

Police have seized nearly $1 million in phony U.S. bills in raids on suspected counterfeit operations in two Quebec towns.

The RCMP, U.S. Secret Service and Quebec provincial police arrested four suspects and seized $949,000 raided six locations in Trois-Rivières and Drummondville Wednesday.

“It’s highly sophisticated, no doubt about that,” said Sgt. André Bacon of the RCMP. “They were putting a lot of effort into the finishing of their notes.”

Investigators believe the bills were distributed in Quebec, but similar counterfeit notes have been traced in the U.S. and other countries.

According to the RCMP, the notes were so close to the real thing, the differences were “basically undetectable to the naked eye.”

The investigation, dubbed “Project CRANIUM”, started in April.

Police believe the operation produced the fake bills using an offset press.

Final touches including holographic features and the bills’ serial numbers were allegedly added after at one of the locations raided by investigators.

The RCMP said the serial numbers were non-sequential, an uncommon practice among counterfeiters.

Police allege $100 US in fake notes were sold for $30 Cdn.

One of the four arrested, 42-year-old François Bourassa of Trois-Rivières, has been charged with production, possession and distribution of counterfeit currency.

Police said the other three suspects could be facing prosecution in Canada or the U.S.

The investigation is ongoing and police are trying to identify more suspects.

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