Retailers urged to watch out for fake £1 coins

London’s retailers should cast a careful eye over £1 coins handed over by customers after a study revealed three in every 100 of the coins in circulation are counterfeit.

The number of fake £1 coins in circulation has more than doubled in the last 10 years, according to an official study conducted by the Royal Mint, with 44 million counterfeit coins currently in people’s pockets.

The number has increased by three million in the last nine months.

The vast majority of shoppers are probably unaware they are carrying fake coins, but may realise they have a counterfeit £1 when it is rejected by vending machines or parking meters. These devices monitor the metal composition of the coins to ensure they are genuine.

Using a fake £1 coin is against the law.

British Retail Consortium spokeswoman Sarah Cordey said retailers have trained staff to spot fake money for years.

“The retail sector is increasingly being targeted by more serious and organised criminals, and counterfeit currency is part of that trend. It’s not a new phenomenon though,” said Cordey.

“Retailers have always trained their staff to watch out for fake money of all kinds and they remain on the alert. A big increase in counterfeit pound coins would be a concern but it’s not something which is having a significant impact at the moment.”

More than half of the fakes are now thought to be so good they can even pass the metal compositions tests posed by automated machines, according the Royal Mint’s study, which it carries out twice a year.

The Treasury may decide to remint coins in the UK due to the counterfeit activity, although this would be an expensive process.

The Royal Mint has published a poster and a guide on how to spot fakes in its bid to lower the amount in circulation. People are advised to check whether the design on the back of the coin matches its year.

Counterfeit coins often have uneven lettering in spacing and depth, while it can be poorly formed. The milled edges of the coins may also be poorly defined while the orientation of the front and back of the coins may be out of line on fakes.

Alarm bells should also ring if the coin appears to be too golden and shiny for the age it claims to be.


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