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November 12, 2010

Fake TTC tokens made in China

CANADA - Toronto's Transit Commission is losing about $2 million CDN per year due to fake TTC tokens and its due to an unlikely source: Organized crime from China.

The TTC estimates that about 2,000 fake tokens are used in the system every day, a rise from the 500 / day that were being used in March 2009.

Obviously the attempt to prevent fakes by using tokens made of two metals has failed, but what has happened instead is that the criminals making the fake tokens are of a different kind: The Chinese mafia, according to sources.

Two alleged fare fraudsters have been arrested, but the fakes continue to pour into the system from other fraudsters who are importing the fake tokens from China. Canada Border Services and the Toronto Police fraud squad are investigating how the fake tokens are being smuggled into Canada.

Earlier this year the fraud squad intercepted a box of 3,800 counterfeit TTC tokens from China. “They were stopped at the border, examined by customs and identified to be counterfeit,” says Toronto Police Det.-Sgt. John White.

Using the names and addresses of where the tokens were heading police later arrested Paul Keim, 31, and Vincent Ham, 23, both of Toronto, and charged them fraud and other criminal charges.

This is the first time a foreign mint has been importing fake tokens into Toronto.

The tokens are apparently hard to spot the difference and were being sold for a mere $1.75 each (compared to $2.50 which is the regular price).

The TTC has been upping the stakes in recent years in an attempt to prevent fraud. They switched to the new two-metal tokens and last year the TTC changed the design of the Metropass, adding a hologram which changes each month.

Eventually tokens will be phased out entirely as SmartPhones, SmartCards and PayPass-enabled debit and credit cards become the new standard for fares. New York City, Seoul and many other subway systems around the world already have a card system.

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