Some countries have coins that are similar at a glance to those of another country. For example, the American and Canadian one cent coins are both copper-colored and are similar in size; while it does not happen constantly, it's not unheard of to find Canadian cents circulating as American coins, and I would imagine the same thing happens in Canada with US cents. I don't think this is a crime when it happens by mistake, but I imagine it would be if done intentionally.

What crime is committed by a person who deliberately attempts to spend foreign currency or coins as if they were local?

  • Are you talking about switching coins of equal value, or the obvious fraud that is getting a thing from a vending machine with a coin that is accepted by the machine because of size and weight, but clearly not the coin asked for and way cheaper?
    – nvoigt
    Commented Feb 26 at 6:26
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    Those of us who live in the Detroit area see Canadian pennies so often that we don't bother distinguishing between them. I'm sure that the banks take a different view of the matter.
    – EvilSnack
    Commented Feb 26 at 17:37
  • @EvilSnack Here on the other side of Canada's deep south, when I used to roll coins and take them to the bank, they would use magnets to check each roll.
    – JimmyJames
    Commented Feb 26 at 18:45
  • As an entirely editorial aside, Canada abolished the penny in 2012. The vast majority of them still in any circulation are most likely in the United States ;) but for the sake of example Canadian quarters are also easily mistaken for the US equivalent.
    – Affe
    Commented Feb 26 at 19:42
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    What could you really be Asking here? How could passing off anything as anything else not be straight fraud? Commented Feb 26 at 20:49

1 Answer 1



American cent coins are worth 0.01 USD. Canadian cent coins are worth (today) 0.0074 USD due to the exchange of 1 Canadian dollar being worth 0.74 USD.

With the intent to get more for less, this is clearly fraud.

Without intent (accidentally grabbing the wrong coin) would not meet the mens rea requirement.

  • 2
    Wouldn't it be fraud regardless of the exchange rate? I mean, even if I were to pass off a pure gold coin as a 1 cent (US or CA) coin, which would obviously be a very stupid idea and a loss for me, it would still be fraud since I would be passing off a non-1-cent-coin as a 1-cent-coin, right
    – terdon
    Commented Feb 26 at 17:30
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    @terdon no: passing off a gold coing as 1 cent would be not to the detriment of the other.#
    – Trish
    Commented Feb 26 at 17:46
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    @Trish It could be, though, couldn't it? Net monetary gain wouldn't be the only detriment considered. If the bank rejected depositing the non-standard coin, then they're now burdened with finding some place to convert it. (Or could be punished for not properly balancing their cash drawer.) -- The fact the person proffering the ersatz coin wasn't up front to the receiver about the substitution (or didn't just do the conversion themselves) might not be prima facie evidence they're harming the receiver, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively.
    – R.M.
    Commented Feb 26 at 18:53
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    @R.M. It is probably more likely to be theft keeping the gold coin after realizing the "mistake" Commented Feb 27 at 4:49
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    From a certain point of view though, a 0.01 CAD coin is worth exactly 0 USD in the US. Exchanging it back to USD is an extra step, at a lower rate than exchange rate since it's not a free service either. Beyond that, a sale is a contract. If the price is posted as 0.01 USD, then the buyer agrees to pay 0.01 USD, not "0.01 USD or any object of equivalent value", because the seller is asking for legal tender, not barter. It would be unreasonable to argue otherwise. Commented Feb 27 at 12:58

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