In the lead up to Christmas, the independent crime-fighting charity, Crimestoppers, is appealing to the public for information on those making, buying or selling counterfeit banknotes.
In the first half of 2017, over 237,000 worthless counterfeit banknotes with a notional value of over £4.88 million were removed from the UK’s streets.
While less than 1% of notes in circulation are counterfeit, this is not a victimless crime. Many retailers, businesses, schools, charities and the elderly have been conned out of money using fake notes.
Christmas is a time when more cash changes hands, especially £20 and £50 notes, and fraudsters take advantage of the festive season by targeting busy shops with temporary staff.
Incidents include scammers tricking innocent members of the public into swapping fake £20 notes for two genuine £10 notes, and businesses being left out of pocket if they take a counterfeit note.
Counterfeit notes are also known to be linked to serious and organised criminal gangs. One gang was sentenced to over three years’ imprisonment for the manufacture of £320,000 worth of fake notes. In another more recent case, three men were prosecuted after £40,000 of fake notes were found in a property that was also used to supply cannabis.
As well as raising public awareness of fake banknotes, in October Crimestoppers partnered with the Bank of England to launch the Banknote Checking Scheme. Aimed at cash-handling businesses, it promotes banknote checking at point of sale through targeted training, with the aim of reducing the number of counterfeit notes being accepted.
Further information on fake notes can be found on Crimestoppers’ web page at fakenotes.co.uk.
If you have information on those making, selling or buying counterfeit notes contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.