American defense contractors in Canada filed confidential espionage accounts about a mysterious coin; a Canadian quarter with a red poppy in the center. The Americans, fearful that terrorists had placed spy devices in their change pockets, immediately reported the strange currency to their superiors in the Pentagon. The red poppy in the middle was thought to be sophisticated nano-technology for radio frequency transmitters. The Defense Department quickly issued a confidential warning for all US contractors with high level security clearances travelling in Canada: beware suspicious red "coins."
Trouble was, the Canadian intel guys were never briefed about the numismatic spy tool. The Canadians wanted to know more. They asked for information and received vague replies. Then they demanded an explanation.
The Defense Department looked at the coin again, or rather they looked at it for the first time. No one at DoD had actually examined the coin before issuing the espionage alert! For reasons that remain US state secrets, the espionage warning was rescinded on the poppy coin. US contractors in Canada were safe...for now.
An AP reporter decided to have a Toronto numismatist look at the coin to verify its Canadian authenticity. He concluded that indeed it was just a silver 25 cent piece "with conventional protective coating the Royal Canadian Mint applied to prevent the poppy's red color from rubbing off." The red poppy tends to glow in the dark under ultraviolet light--that may have spooked the American spooks.
So the "red poppy" coin caper is officially solved. Or is it? Can we really trust the Canadians with such strange minting practices? I think Canada may be our "weak link" in Homeland Security.
TheStar.com - News - U.S. feared poppy quarter