In the week that the Yorkshire Building Society dispensed fake £20 notes from a cash machine in Lancaster, we look further into the murky world of counterfeit money.
The notes were clearly fake, called Twenty Poonds and with “This note is play money” written on them. But how often do we look that closely at the cash we receive from ATMs? The Yorkshire Bank are laying responsibility on their third party supplier, not staff within the bank and are offering no-quibble exchanges for real money for anyone receiving the toy money.
How to get fake money
It is remarkably easy to get hold of this counterfeit money. A search on Google comes up with many eBay offers of this money, all openly describing the ‘money’ as ‘prop’, ‘joke’ or ‘party’ money. For £10 real money you can buy 10 fake £20 notes – or 100 £50 notes, helpfully described as looking “like a full stack from both sides”.
How to spot fake money
When you know what you are looking for, it becomes relatively easy to spot money that in’t real. The physical feel is different. Check also for the silver strip that runs all the way through the real notes – just hold up to a light to check. Shining an ultraviolet light on the top of the real note shows a harlequin hat, not seen on fakes.
What happens to the counterfeiters
Punishment for passing off fake money is most definitely real. Earlier this year in Northern Ireland, a gang who had produced £1m of counterfeit money were sent to prison for up to 18 months.
What to do if your shop is scammed
The Bank of England has issued guidance for retailers, including free training materials from their website. The new polymer, plastic notes are much more difficult to forge – for now, at least!