pound coinThere's quite an interesting programme on BBC1 at the moment - Fake Britain - and in last night's episode they covered the topic of fake cash and credit cards. Fake credit cards and notes are well known and in the case of notes, most people are well versed in checking for fakes, but what was surprising was the number of fake £1 coins in circulation and how little people about it or how to identify fakes.

On the programme, the scientist gave a few methods to easily check and then today, Love Money conveniently provided a more extensive list that I thought was worth passing on...

  • The coin has been circulating for some time according to its date of issue, yet it looks surprisingly new.
  • The design on the back of the coin doesn’t match the official design for the year it was issued. You can check which designs were used in each year at the Royal Mint website. £1 coins were first introduced in 1983 and the design has changed every year since. Check out Britain’s £1 Coin Designs which shows the designs that should appear on the reverse of the coin for every year from 1983 to 2010. Remember, if the date and the design don’t match up, you’ve got a fake.
  • The lettering or inscription on the edge of the coin doesn’t match the corresponding year. Take a look at the Counterfeit Coin Guide which will show you the correct specifications and inscriptions on £1 coins according to their year of issue.
  • The designs on both sides of the coin aren’t well defined compared with a real coin.
  • The alignment of the design is at an angle. Hold the coin so that the Queen’s head is upright and facing you. The design on the back should be upright too.
  • The ribbed edge of the coin is poorly defined.
  • The lettering on the edge of the coin is uneven, badly spaced or indistinct.
  • The colour of the coin doesn’t match the genuine article. Fake coins are often more yellow or golden than the real thing.
  • Fake coins are often thinner and lighter.
  • Remember, most counterfeit coins won’t be accepted by vending machines unless the forgery is particularly good. This is a clear indication that you have a fake.

Love Money

Whilst not all practical to check whilst out and about, there's enough info there for you to have a quick look at any pound coins you may get and quickly hand it back and ask for another. If you've already got a few, pop by your local police station and hand them over - I don't want them, and neither does anyone else.

Of course whilst this info is useful to us, it's fantastic for the forgers too.

Oh yes, and does anyone know where I can get one of those front doors the credit card forger had. Over 15 minutes for the police to get through is pretty impressive.