The rise of counterfeit bank notes and how to spot them

by Toni Dowling

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

SBRC advises business to stay vigilant of fraudulent bank notes

Scottish PR photograph of a £10 note

SCOTS are being warned to be on wary of counterfeit bank notes following a recent operation which resulted in the seizure of 1.3 million counterfeit Euros across Europe.

The Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) has unveiled its top tips on how to spot a counterfeit bank note to help keep the public safe.

Businesses across Scotland involved in cash handling are being advised to stay vigilant as counterfeit notes have recently been uncovered in the north of Scotland as well as the Lothians.

SBRC’s Serious Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism Lead, David MacCrimmon, has highlighted the key ways to identify a fraudulent note.

He said: “Firstly, you will be aware of the feel of the paper on which genuine cash is printed, counterfeiters just can’t seem to get this right, it is hard to replicate.

“Therefore, if a note doesn’t feel right when you touch it, then take a closer look. Criminals will sometimes tell you that it’s ‘been in the wash’ as an excuse.

“Take a look at the security features. Make sure you are familiar with the metal security strip, what does that look like?

Look at the print quality, the print on a genuine note will be sharp and well defined with no blurred edges. Look at the serial numbers, are they all the same on multiple notes tendered?

“Holograms and watermarks are also difficult to replicate, so check up against the light, move the note around to see the hologram interacting with movement.

“If you have an ultraviolet light you will be able to check the security paper features itself, so it is wise to invest in one, whether it be a desktop UV light one to keep by the cash point or small key-ring ones that each member of staff can have to hand.”

Scottish PR photograph of David MacCrimmon, SBRC’s Serious Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism Lead

David MacCrimmon

Banks are working alongside law enforcement to tackle the ongoing issue of counterfeit money production with the introduction of polymer notes which are a more difficult material to replicate.

The polymer £20 banknote will be introduced in early 2020 alongside £5 and £10 notes which are already in circulation. SBRC warns that until the transition has taken place, the current £20 notes are still at risk of counterfeiting.

Any attempts of payment with fake notes should be immediately reported to police for further investigation.

Ways to spot a counterfeit banknote can include:

  • If it doesn’t feel right
  • Unfamiliar appearance of security features
  • Poor print quality – blurred or undefined edges
  • Serial number repetition
  • Non-interactive hologram when moving the note
  • No sign of security features under UV light

The Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) is a non-profit organisation which exists to support and help protect Scottish businesses.

SBRC’s unique connection to Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Scottish Government gives it exclusive access to the latest information on legislation, criminal trends and threats, allowing it to provide the very best advice to safeguard staff, customers and business.

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