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Ceci n’est pas un token

ttc_token.jpgThis is what you won’t be mistaking for a dime in your pocket anymore: the TTC’s new token. While the old token was incredibly easy to counterfeit and felt of a lesser quality than a Chuck E. Cheese coin, the new one looks a little more official and is virtually impossible to counterfeit, according to the TTC.
The Commission won’t tell us exact details about the token’s constitution, but since the coin is recognized electronically by turnstiles, this would lead us to believe each one contains an RFID identifier similar to the ones now used by some casinos in their gambling chips.
The TTC also reported that there are two metals involved, but wouldn’t say which ones. The most likely metals would be brass and a nickel-aluminum alloy.
20 million tokens were ordered, which are costing the TTC $1.7 million. The Transit Commission estimates that token fraud has already cost them $10 million in losses. The old tokens will still be valid until the end of January, and in the new year, old tokens can be exchanged at Bloor, Warden, Kipling, and Finch subway stations.
In February, a massive transit token counterfeiting scam was uncovered after a two-year FBI investigation that also included the Toronto Police. The scam involved three brothers who allegedly contracted a U.S. mint to stamp the fakes. In 2004, 307 people were also arrested for manufacturing fake paper tickets, according to the charges.
The TTC stopped accepting the older paper tickets in April because of rampant fraud pegged at around $7 million per year, which includes fake Metropasses and turnstile-jumping.
UPDATE (Tuesday): The Star reports this morning that the tokens do not contain RFID. We now believe that the tokens are employing a technology manufactured by IDX Casino Products called X-Mark where an optical code is minted into the token surface that is read at certain angles by a receptor within the turnstiles. The TTC has mentioned that the coins also carry a unique compositional identifier, which would indicate bi-metal alloys that have a particular electromagnetic signature — already a technique employed by the company that is stamping the tokens, Osborne Coinage of Ohio.

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