The Royal Canadian Mint says a phoney gold bar sold to a jeweller by an Ottawa bank may have looked like the real thing, but was actually a counterfeit.
The small gold wafer wasn't made or sold by the mint, although it was made to look genuine, said spokesman Alex Reeves.
The jeweller who bought the bar told the CBC his goldsmith knew something was wrong when he tried to put the wafer through a mill and found it was much too hard and brittle to be gold.
Reeves says the mint does not sell bullion direct to the public.
The mint only sells bullion guaranteed to be 99.99 per cent pure, and does not sell bullion directly to the public, Reeves noted.
"It is a copy of a Royal Canadian Mint bullion bar," he said.
"We know that its purity is not four nines, its weight is not four nines. The packaging has errors on it, so we knew right away that there were several things wrong with it. It could not possibly come from the Royal Canadian Mint."
It's rare for such a counterfeit to turn up, Reeves added.
"This is not widespread; this is a very isolated case," he said. "It didn't come from the mint, it's not one of our bars. It imitates one of our bars, but that's the extent of it, unfortunately."
The bank said in a statement that most of the bullion it sells comes from the mint, although in some cases clients may request another supplier.
"We work closely with them to ensure we acquire the most secure product available," the statement said.
The bank said it is rare for a counterfeit to get into its inventory.
"Upon discovering these objects, we immediately investigate to determine the source of the object and engage the appropriate authorities. In all instances, we work closely with our clients to keep them informed and to reach a potential resolution."
The matter has been handed to the police for further investigation.
The mint, meanwhile, has introduced new, high-tech security measures in recent years, Reeves said.
"We have visible, anti-counterfeiting, microengraving marks on new one-ounce gold bars for instance since 2016," he said. "We've got similar features and even more security on our gold and silver Maple Leaf one-ounce coins."