[Home]HowToSpotAFakePoundCoin

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A non-trivial proportion of the nickel-brass pound coins in circulations is counterfeit. I've heard suggestions that the proportion is as high as 5%, and I recently got 20-worth of pound coins from the Bene't St branch of Barclays, of which two turned out to be forgeries.

There are various common signs you can use to recognise a counterfeit pound coin:

Example scans of various [counterfeit pound coins] are also available.

Note that the edge lettering on genuine pound coins has had its typeface changed several times, but it seems to be consistent within a year. What isn't consistent is the orientation of the lettering and its alignment with the faces.

Warning: Sub-sections 15(2) and 16(2) of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981 say:

15(2) It is an offence for a person to deliver to another, without lawful authority or excuse, any thing which is, and which he knows or believes to be, a counterfeit of a currency note or of a protected coin.

16(2) It is an offence for a person to have in his custody or under his control, without lawful authority or excuse, any thing which is, and which he knows or believes to be, a counterfeit of a currency note or of a protected coin.
This means that as soon as you know that a coin is counterfeit, it becomes an offence to give it to anyone else or to keep it, unless you have "lawful authority or excuse".

It would appear that it's considered a "lawful excuse" to maintain possession of a counterfeit banknote (covered by the same statutory rules as coins) solely for the purpose of handing it over to the Police. See R v Wuyts [1969] 2 QB 476 and R v Sunman [1995] Crim LR 569, for instance.

I suspect it's also permissible to destroy counterfeits yourself, as long as you're certain that's what they are. It's an offence under section 10 of the Coinage Act 1971 to destroy a genuine British coin, but this doesn't cover banknotes.

What about those coin pressing machines that press a 1p coin into a pretty shape? On the last one of those that I saw there was a little note saying how the law about destruction of coins no longer existed? --Adam

BJH21 has asked Cambridgeshire Constabulary what one should do in this situation. Their response is confidential, and not very useful. He asked some follow-up questions, but they got ignored.

If it's an offence to hold on to counterfeit coinage, presumably that means that if a shop detects a forged coin then you'd have to refuse to take it back?

Senji recently got two in the same day (3/6/4), his experience is [documented in his livejournal].


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Last edited December 22, 2006 6:38 pm (diff)
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