When a package from China arrived at a FedEx warehouse in the Montreal-Mirabel International Airport in early January, Canada Border Services Agency officer Caroline Landry scrutinized the shipping label with a swift yet meticulous glance. The accompanying customs paperwork claimed it held 10,000 “metal badges” from a clothing company in Quanzhou, destined for a company named “Les Cartes Quebecois” (Quebec Cards) and an individual identified as Jean-Francois Généreux in Sorel, Que., approximately 70 kilometers from Montreal.
The discrepancy between the declared contents—metal badges from a clothing company—and the destination—a card company in Quebec—raised suspicions. Landry, decided to open the package. Instead of finding metal badges, she discovered six more boxes inside, which, according to the CBSA, allegedly contained around 12,000 $2 Canadian coins, all stamped with the year 2012 and stored in plastic bags.
Questions immediately arose. Why would a clothing company in China ship thousands of $2 Canadian coins labeled as badges to a card company in Quebec? And why all from the year 2012? Landry, intrigued and suspicious, set the package aside for further investigation.
What unfolded next, assisted by the RCMP, is detailed in sworn affidavits filed by CBSA investigator Jean-Francois Pinard in a Quebec court. The affidavits suggest that metal coin manufacturers in China are producing thousands of counterfeit Canadian $2 coins, which are then sold through online platforms like Alibaba and eBay to buyers in North America, with major courier companies like FedEx and UPS delivering the fake coins to locations across Canada.
While the CBSA’s allegations are yet to be proven, the evidence gathered points to what could be the largest known shipment of fake $2 coins from China in Canadian history. The focus then shifted to Jean-Francois Généreux, the intended recipient.
Investigations revealed that there was no registered company called Les Cartes Quebecois, and Généreux was reportedly unemployed, residing near a Rio Tinto metals facility in Sorel-Tracy. Further scrutiny of Généreux’s background uncovered multiple convictions for uttering fake documents and using counterfeit money dating back to 2002.
The CBSA engaged Jennifer Merritt, a forensic specialist at the RCMP’s National Anti-Counterfeiting Bureau, to examine samples of the seized coins. Merritt’s findings allegedly confirmed that the coins were fake Toonies, displaying differences in graphical detail and quality compared to genuine Royal Canadian Mint $2 coins.
Subsequent investigations revealed that the intercepted package was Généreux’s third shipment of “metal badges” from China within a month. Two earlier shipments had already passed through Canada Customs and reached Généreux in December 2022. The CBSA placed Généreux under surveillance, suspecting him of being involved in a scheme to import counterfeit Canadian Toonies from Chinese manufacturers.
In February, CBSA executed search warrants at Généreux’s home and a storage unit, discovering an additional 14,581 allegedly fake Toonies. Records show Généreux has a history of criminal convictions, including various charges related to fraud, theft, identity theft, and mail theft.
The seized fake coins, along with other items, were found throughout Généreux’s residence and storage unit. If the allegations are true, Généreux had been purchasing the counterfeit Toonies from Chinese manufacturers for 5 cents U.S. each, potentially yielding substantial profits.
Généreux now faces criminal charges, including buying, importing, and possessing counterfeit currency, as well as introducing counterfeit currency into circulation. If convicted, he could face up to 14 years in prison. The fate of the 26,630 allegedly fake Toonies is currently held in a CBSA Montreal vault until the legal proceedings conclude.
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