Action Fraud have issued a warning over counterfeit currency and the organised crime syndicates, making big money from it.

In 2018 alone, more than £10 million worth of counterfeit bank notes were taken out of circulation. This only represents a small portion of the 3.7 billion genuine bank notes in circulation, but police say it is essential they are reported.

Action Fraud reports that criminals are using social media platforms such as Instagram to sell counterfeit money, and sellers are offering notes at a reduced price, sometimes as little as a tenth of their face value. Police in West Yorkshire recently confirmed a spate of incidents in which counterfeit money was used to pay for goods.

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. Action Fraud say they are issuing the warning to encourage people to report counterfeit currency and what to do if they 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 Uni (UNCO) 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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