When the package from faraway China landed at a FedEx warehouse at the sprawling Montreal-Mirabel International Airport in early January, Canada Border Services Agency officer Caroline Landry took a quick but careful look. to the shipping label.
Customs documents accompanying the package indicated it contained 10,000 “metal badges” from a Quanzhou clothing company, according to the CBSA.
Destination? A company called “Les Cartes Québécoises” and a man identified as Jean-François Généreux from Sorel, Quebec, approximately 70 kilometers from Montreal.
Metal badges? Shipped from a clothing company? To a card company? None of this made much sense. Landry therefore decided to open the package.
Inside, she saw no metal badges. Only six boxes left. She opened them. Inside those boxes, according to the CBSA, Landry found what appeared to be approximately 12,000 Canadian $2 coins, all stamped 2012, in plastic bags.
Why would anyone ship thousands of Canadian $2 coins from China to Quebec, calling them badges? Why is this all from 2012? Landry asked, putting the package aside for further investigation.
What happened next saw the CBSA, with help from the RCMP, unravel what became the largest detected shipment of fake Toonies from China in Canadian history, according to the affidavits that CBSA investigator Jean-François Pinard filed before a Quebec court.
Metal coin manufacturing companies in China produce thousands of fake Canadian $2 coins and sell them to buyers here in North America through online e-commerce platforms like AliBaba, eBay and others, Pinard alleged in CBSA sworn affidavits.
Canadian buyers of these fake Canuck coins made in China have them delivered to their doorsteps in cities across Canada by courier giants like FedEx and UPS, Pinard added.
As of now, the CBSA’s allegations are unproven and the evidence CBSA investigators say they have gathered about the latest questionable coins from China has not been tested in court.
Which brings us back to Jean-François Généreux.
CBSA investigators wondered: who is he and why did he order so many Toonies from China?
First, CBSA detectives say they learned there was no registered company called Les Cartes Québécoises.
Généreux was also reportedly unemployed and living in an apartment in a four-unit building, right next to a Rio Tinto metallurgical plant in Sorel-Tracy.
Then, by examining Généreux’s background, CBSA documents indicate, investigators discovered that the Sorel resident had been convicted on several occasions for uttering false documents and using or circulating counterfeit money, notably for twice in 2002, again in 2006 and once in 2009.
PKBNEWS confirmed Généreux’s previous criminal convictions for forgery and false documents in Quebec court records.
(Global also uncovered more than a dozen other police arrests dating back to 2001. He pleaded guilty to multiple charges of fraud, theft, identity theft and mail theft, as well as violations repeated terms of probation. He was jailed three times, including 12 months in 2012, according to court records.)
With this information on Généreux, the CBSA says, it called on Jennifer Merritt, a forensic specialist with the RCMP’s National Anti-Counterfeiting Bureau.
At the request of the CBSA, Merritt examined 121 samples of $2 coins from China seized at the airport, representing a 1% sample of the final tally of 12,049 coins seized at the Mirabel airport. .
Merritt’s conclusion would have confirmed what the CBSA already suspected. The seized coins were fake Toonies because they had “differences in graphic detail and quality compared to genuine Royal Canadian Mint $2 coins,” CBSA affidavits state, without elaborating.
CBSA officials say they then checked import databases and allegedly learned that the package of coins held was Généreux’s third package of “metal badges” from China in a month.
Two others had already pa*sed Canadian customs, which employs 14,000 people, and were delivered to Généreux on December 1 and 2, 2022, the affidavits state.
The CBSA then placed Généreux under surveillance, suspecting him of having received several shipments of questionable Toonies and of being a counterfeit currency smuggler, according to the affidavits.
Pinard outlined details of Généreux’s past and his alleged scheme to purchase and import counterfeit Canadian Toonies from Chinese manufacturers in search warrants that the CBSA used to search Généreux’s home and then a storage unit in February, according to documents from the Court of Quebec.
After seizing 12,049 fake Toonies at the FedEx Mirabel warehouse in January, searches of Généreux’s home and warehouse in February reportedly uncovered an additional 14,581 fake Toonies, which were also seized.
It’s unclear from the search warrants how long CBSA investigators believe this has been going on, but we know enough to say the alleged scale of this affair was unprecedented. Canadian customs records also reportedly revealed that 13 different import shipments had been delivered to Généreux’s home since 2022.
“This is the largest known seizure of (allegedly) counterfeit coins for an individual in Canada,” said Mike Marshall, a Trenton, Ont., counterfeit coin expert turned counterfeit coin expert. currency that monitors and tracks them as they surface across Canada. .
In May 2022, Toronto RCMP arrested Daixiong He, 68, of Richmond Hill, Ontario, and charged him with uttering counterfeit currency and possession of counterfeit currency. Mounties seized 10,000 fake Toonies during this investigation. His case is still before the courts, and the RCMP said at the time that his alleged forgeries were “suspected to originate from China” but provided no solid public evidence.
If a conviction were obtained in Généreux’s case, it would easily become the largest seizure of counterfeit coins from a single person and offer direct evidence of ties to China.
CBSA investigators say they found boxes and boxes of allegedly counterfeit coins in the Sorel man’s home and storage unit, many of which were still in boxes with Chinese letters on them. , according to the documents.
Investigators discovered 4,422 counterfeit $2 coins hidden in a cat litter bucket; Another 1,306 were in a Walmart bag, according to an inventory of items allegedly seized during the searches.
The CBSA also seized 91 US$50 bills that prosecutors say are also counterfeit, as well as three Apple iPads, two cellphones and two laptops, according to court records.
Why would anyone bother purchasing and importing a low-value counterfeit Toonie from China?
“It’s not small change, like people think. There are millions of counterfeit Toonies currently circulating in Canada,” Marshall explained.
The figures on Généreux’s shipping invoices may provide some insight: the operation could potentially yield easy, juicy profits.
Chinese manufacturers of fake Toonies sold them to Généreux for 5 US cents each, according to CBSA affidavits.
If the allegations against him are true, that means he paid $600 for his shipment of 12,000 pieces, plus $857 for shipping.
Such calculations would still give Généreux a tidy profit each time he managed to transmit one to a merchant, store or bank, minus his shipping costs.
Merchants wouldn’t pay as much attention to a Toonie as they would to a US$50 bill, for example, making them easier to use when buying coffee and a donut, a beer at a bar or milk in a convenience store.
If merchants take them to the bank and counterfeits are spotted, tellers seize them and remove them from circulation. This is costly for the company; Bank customers whose coins are seized are not compensated, Marshall said.
The CBSA may have difficulty tracking down and arresting Chinese manufacturers.
In Généreux’s case, the suspect allegedly provided various invoices and shipping documents when the CBSA began asking pointed questions about his FedEx shipment of Toonies held in Mirabel.
The first invoice accompanying the package of 12,000 pieces identified the seller as: “Mr. LIU, Quanzhou Jiayan Clothing Co. Ltd., No. 159 Chongsun Street, Quanzhou, FU, Tel. : 18365262565.”
The sworn affidavits indicate that when CBSA officers, through FedEx, allegedly pressed Généreux for more information and invoices, he sent another invoice to FedEx staff.
This time, the invoice identified a different seller: “Kunshan Longlife Gifts Co. LTD, located at 211 room, 12 building, 1280 fushikang road, kunshan, Jiangu, China.”
Généreux even redacted part of the second invoice he sent to remove the sender’s description of the contents being shipped, the CBSA alleged.
Kunshan Longlife Gifts Co. is identified as a metal coin manufacturer based in China. His profile on Alibaba has since been deleted. It still works openly on other websites.
Kunshan Longlife did not respond to a request for comment.
As for Généreux, he was arrested and charged earlier this month. He will appear in court on De. 4.
Généreux told PKBNEWS he would not comment on his case, fearing prosecutors could use his statements against him.
He now faces five criminal charges for purchasing, importing and possessing counterfeit currency and putting counterfeit currency into circulation. He faces a separate charge under the customs law for providing false information on an import declaration.
If convicted, Généreux faces up to 14 years in prison.
What happened to Généreux’s 26,630 fake Toonies? They are kept in a CBSA safe in Montreal until the end of the file.