I was in Brussels recently, and ran across a good little scam. Euro five-cent pieces look sort of like Canadian pennies. When I arrived in Brussels, I transferred all of my Canadian change to a bag in my backpack so I wouldn’t get it mixed up with my euro change. After I ran some errands, I found that I had a few Canadian pennies in my change. I assumed I’d missed a few coins, and got rid of them.
Then I went out again and bought a few more things, and again found that I had a few Canadian pennies. Where were they coming from? Ah – people slip Canadian pennies into a handful of change and, unless you look closely, you don’t notice that you’ve been ripped off. The scammer makes about four Euro-cents in profit each time he / she pulls off the scam.
Somewhere in Brussels, there is a lively market for Canadian pennies. I wonder if there are penny smugglers; given how widespread the scam is, people must be bringing Canadian pennies into the country, rather than relying on the few that would show up on their own. And I wonder if the penny smugglers sell Canadian pennies for, say, two Euro cents.
And I wonder if the Bank of Canada has considered the opportunities for our monetary policy.