Printer urges N.B. to take security measures

COUNTERFEITING: Anyone with a computer, scanner and high resolution printer can make fake government documents

A computer or photocopier are all a counterfeiter needs to create fraudulent documents and a Sussex printing company is urging the province to beef up its security measures.

The arrest of a Moncton-area man last week has raised concerns about professionally counterfeited insurance papers.

On July 15 RCMP seized counterfeit inspection stickers, counterfeit inspection slips, counterfeit insurance cards, temporary permits and documents to counterfeit $100 from a home in Lakeville, nine kilometres from Moncton. David Campbell of Lakeville pleaded guilty to charges of forgery, counterfeiting and breech of probation in the matter.

The operator of the only security printing company in Atlantic Canada says this discovery is only the tip of the iceberg.

“In the older days only trades people were doing it. Now anyone with a computer, scanner and high resolution printer can be a counterfeiter,” said Grant Obermeier, operator of Rainbow Printing Ltd. in Sussex.

“Those $100 bills which were counterfeited a couple years ago (and found in Campbellton) were made on a high resolution printer bought at Staples.”

Mr. Obermeier has already contacted the provincial Department of Public Safety and the Insurance Bureau of Canada to suggest changes in printing of insurance cards or government documents.

“The province needs to look at the value of documents and if a document has value they should look at what kind of security value has been added,” he said.

Currently, he said, many government documents are printed on standard bond paper, which is easily photocopied. Instead he suggests using a watermark that is made in the paper. The watermark is only produced in a security mill and available to security printers, thus out of the hands of forgers.

Invisible fluorescent fibres and inks made in the paper could also be used. Unable to photocopied, scanned or digitally manipulated they can be seen only using an ultraviolet light.

Special inks that bleed through numbering, creating a red halo around serial numbers, or micro security printing in which tiny text fills in when photocopied, can also be used to safeguard against fraud.

Since costs come down proportionately to the volume being printed, the price tag for security would be minimal, Mr. Obermeier said.

“Basically it would cost pennies to do.” For instance, he said, a recent quote to a customer was 11 cents per gift certificate and 13 cents for advanced security on the same item.

The Department of Public Safety is aware of the growing threat of document fraud.

“We sit on national and international organizations to prevent auto theft and issues of fraudulent documents. It is an issue that challenges jurisdictions across North America,” said Public Safety spokeswoman Patricia Hyland.

Public Safety staff headed to Vermont Wednesday to attend a conference on identity theft and document counterfeiting at which they were to discuss latest techniques to stem these criminal activities.

Ms. Hyland said her department was approached by Rainbow Printing recently about security measures on provincial documents.

“Staff have spoken with Mr. Obermeier and certainly we are going to look at the suggestions he has made and forward them to our national and international colleges for feedback,” she said.

In the meantime the province wants to ensure co-operation between its own departments and local law enforcement to root out counterfeiters.

“We are asking the RCMP and municipal police to alert us as to any fraudulent documents and make us aware of any developments so that we can ensure our policies are up to date and staff are trained to detect forgeries,” Ms. Hyland said.