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Counterfeit currency: What to do if you receive counterfeit notes or coins and where to report

With an estimated 3.7 billion genuine bank notes currently in circulation in the UK, counterfeiting is viewed as big business by organised crime syndicates.

Only a small fraction of banknotes are counterfeit, but it is essential that they are reported to the police. 

In 2018 alone, around 461,000 counterfeit Bank of England banknotes with a face value of £10 million were taken out of circulation. 

Last month, reports surfaced of criminals using social media platforms such as Instagram to promote and sell counterfeit money with sellers offering counterfeit notes for as little as a tenth of their face value.

In West Yorkshire, police confirmed a spate of incidents across the county in which counterfeit notes were used to pay for goods purchased online.

Victims made arrangements for the buyer to visit their home and pay in cash, only to find out afterwards that counterfeit notes had been used to pay for the goods.

In many cases, people are unsure about where to report counterfeit currency and what to do if they recover or are passed forged notes.

Head of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith said: “Criminals are using increasingly sophisticated networks and methods to make counterfeit notes and coins.

“If you have been passed or recover counterfeit currency, this should be reported to your local police force.

 “Police are responsible for investigating the matter and they will liaise with National Counterfeit Currency Unit (aka UKNCO) at the National Crime Agency (NCA).

“Action Fraud does not deal with counterfeit currency offences or reports.”

What to do if you receive counterfeit currency

  • If the notes have been passed and the suspect is not present, this should be reported via 101, by attending your local police station or online depending on the force area.
  • If the suspect is present at the location or still nearby, consideration should be given to contacting the police on 999.
  • Counterfeit notes should be retained and provided to the police as evidence, ideally inside a plastic wallet or paper envelope to preserve potential fingerprints.
  • If there is CCTV footage of the suspect available, this should be downloaded and provided to the police together with the counterfeit notes or coins.

Please see the links below to websites that contain further information about security features present in bank notes and coins to assist you in determining if the item is counterfeit or genuine:

How to check your bank notes (Bank of England)

Banknote issuers (Scotland and Northern Ireland – how to check your bank notes)

Coin designs and specifications

Euros and dollars

If you have information about persons; making, supplying, passing or possessing counterfeit currency (banknotes and / or coins) please contact your local Police or report the matter anonymously to CrimeStoppers on 0800 555111 or online    

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