With the festive period in full swing and bargain hunters heading for the sales, Crimestoppers charity’s fifth annual campaign appeals to the public for information on those making, buying or selling counterfeit banknotes, while also aiming to keep the public safe from fraudsters.
Last year, 26 December saw 23 million people across Britain hit the high street and spend £4.5billion, and with this year set to be similar Crimestoppers wants to protect communities from falling foul of fake note scammers.
In the first half of 2018, around 223,000 counterfeit banknotes with a face value of £5 million were taken out of circulation.
Whilst less than 0.05% of notes in circulation are counterfeit, this is not a victimless crime and retailers, businesses, charities and vulnerable people have been conned out of money by people using fake notes.
The aim of the campaign is to highlight that although counterfeit notes represent a very small fraction of some 3.7 billion genuine banknotes in circulation, the public still needs to be vigilant and check their notes, especially the paper £20 and £50.
With more cash changing hands over Christmas fraudsters often look to exploit busy shops, vulnerable people or try to scam those selling unwanted gifts on selling websites with notes that are completely worthless.
A recent example saw an 87-year-old man conned by an individual into handing over genuine money in exchange for a fake £50 note. The victim was asked to break the note for change so the fraudster could get a taxi, only to find out later when he tried to spend it that the note was fake.
As well as raising public awareness, Crimestoppers – a strategic partner of the Bank of England’s Banknote Checking Scheme – is keen to promote checking at the point of sale for all cash handling businesses. The aim of the Scheme is to educate retailers on what-to-spot to reduce the number of fakes in circulation.
Further information on how to check your banknotes can be found on Crimestoppers’ web page at fakenotes.co.uk.
Dave Hunter, Head of Operations at the charity Crimestoppers said:
“The purpose of this campaign is to protect the public during the festive season and the busy sales period and encourage them to check their notes so as not to be a victim.
“Our charity takes information 100% anonymously. Always. I would ask anyone who has information on those making, buying or selling fake bank notes to speak up to help keep your community safe from these heartless and callous fraudsters. No-one will know you contacted us, and you may prevent someone’s Christmas from being ruined.”
Emma Sinclair, Senior Manager of Banknote Engagement and Communications at the Bank of England said:
“Counterfeiting money is not a victimless crime and it is really important that the public report any evidence of counterfeiting that they see. Campaigns such as this, and our Banknote Checking Scheme for retailers, are essential in helping us and law enforcement stop counterfeiters.”
In over 30 years, Crimestoppers charity has always kept its promise of anonymity to everyone who contacts us.
If you have information on those making, selling or buying counterfeit notes then please contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through our Anonymous Online Form at crimestoppers-uk.org/give-info.