One in 20 £1 coins is fake, claims expert
The number of fake £1 coins in circulation is higher than previously thought, an industry expert said today.
Royal Mint figures released in September last year suggested that 2 per cent of the coins - around 30 million in total - were fakes, but in January that figure was increased to 2.5 per cent.
But Andy Brown, managing director at Willings, a company which tests coins collected at car parks and in vending machines, said the machines used by the Royal Mint to test for fakes were not accurate enough.
He believes the figure could be closer to 5 per cent, meaning one in 20 coins are fake.
"The Mint has started a process of finding the fraudulent coins but the machines they use only find 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the fakes," he said.
"They are using high-volume machines which are checking a lot of coins and they also do not want to reject real coins so they are potentially erring on the side of caution with their calculations.
"We carried out our own sample and withdrew £2,000 in pound coins from the bank and we found 3 per cent to 4 per cent were fakes."
One way of spotting if a coin is a fake is to look at the edge. The lettering on a counterfeit coin is often indistinct or in the wrong typeface.
Another method is to hold the coin so the Queen's head is upright. The pattern on the reverse side should also be upright.
Advice from the Royal MintRegular surveys are undertaken by the Royal Mint to establish the incidence of £1 counterfeit coins. The most recent survey indicated a counterfeit rate of around 2%.
Provisions for various offences connected with the counterfeiting of coins are included in the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981. Enforcement of these provisions is entirely a matter for law enforcements agencies, such as the police and the Crown Prosecution Service.
Any amount of counterfeiting must be a matter of concern, and the Royal Mint is liaising with the Banks and Post Office to identify and withdraw counterfeits at cash centres.
Another option available to the Treasury and the Royal Mint to reduce the level of counterfeiting is the introduction of a new £1 coin. At present, however, given the low incidence of counterfeits there is not a sufficiently strong value-for-money case for taking this course of action.
It may not always be easy to spot a counterfeit £1 coin without close inspection. Features of counterfeit coins to look out for are set out below.
- The date and design on the reverse do not match (the reverse design is changed each year). A list of designs and dates is available on the Royal Mint website.
- The lettering or inscription on the edge of the coin does not correspond to the right year.
- The milled edge is poorly defined and the lettering is uneven in depth, spacing or is poorly formed.The obverse and reverse designs are not as sharp or well defined.
- Where the coin should have been in circulation for some time, the colouring appears more shiny and golden and the coin shows no sign of age.
- The colour of the coin does not match genuine coins.
- The orientation of the obverse and reverse designs is not in line.