Crimestoppers has warned members of the public to look out for counterfeit notes this Christmas, having recorded numerous incidents of buyers paying for goods from sites such as Gumtree and Facebook with fake cash.
“Christmas is a busy time for both retailers and the public, and unfortunately it provides an opportunity for criminals to pass on counterfeit notes as payment,” said Ben Crosland, the senior manager of the Bank of England’s Banknote Education team.
“While we work hard to stay one step ahead of fraudsters, it is important people check security features on the £5, £10, £20 and £50 banknotes when they are passed in transactions.”
So how do you spot a fake note? Crimestoppers recommends:
- Checking the see-through window and the portrait of the Queen
- Checking that the Elizabeth tower is gold on the front of the note and silver on the back
- Checking the foil patches
- Feeling for raised print across the words 'Bank of England' on paper notes
- Holding paper notes up to the light to check the watermark and looking for the metallic thread running through them
“The purpose of this campaign is to raise awareness of counterfeit money, especially around Christmas when there are more transactions happening and money can be tight,” said Crimestoppers chief executive Mark Hallas. “Purchasing counterfeit notes can be tempting and many people do not realise that, not only are these notes completely worthless, but knowingly holding or passing them on is a crime.
“People can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously with information on 0800 555 111, safe in the knowledge that they will never have to give a statement to police or go to court.” [Mirror]
Update 11:15 GMT: This article originally stated that criminals have already started counterfeiting the new plastic £5 note. However, Crimestoppers has been in touch, saying, “We put a story out asking the public to always be vigilant using notes, however this was aimed at paper notes. There is no evidence of fake polymer £5 notes being in circulation.”