Counterfeit currency

Organised criminals involved in currency counterfeiting in the UK produce a variety of banknote types, including Bank of England and Scottish sterling, Northern Ireland sterling and euro notes. During 2012, the number of counterfeit Bank of England banknotes taken out of circulation was around 719,000 with a face value of £13.1m. The most counterfeited was the 'Adam Smith' £20 note. The Bank of England judges that almost all counterfeit notes are removed from circulation quickly as a result of retailers banking their takings.

If you have been handed counterfeit currency you should report it to the police.

For information on how to identify a genuine banknote, visit the Bank of England website

Between 2010 and 2012 the level of euro counterfeiting decreased Europe-wide. The number of counterfeit euro banknotes recovered in this period dropped from 751,000 to 531,000 bank notes. Counterfeit €20 and €50 notes made up the majority of euro bank notes removed from circulation.

New methods of faking banknotes
The market has changed over the last ten years. High quality counterfeit notes can be produced very quickly by skilled printers using traditional offset lithographic methods. However, organised crime groups are also producing digitally printed fakes, using the latest technology and laser or inkjet printing techniques. Offset lithographic printing remains the more serious threat; notes are of a high quality and can be produced quickly.

Organised criminals involved in currency counterfeiting are increasingly coming together to operate as linked networks. While groups may produce their own unique fake banknotes, some will "finish" (add the foil security features to) or distribute counterfeits from other groups. Circulating fake money is high risk, so large batches are broken down for distribution, usually by street-level criminals.

The Economic Crime command leads the NCA's fight against counterfeit currency. Find out more about the Economic Crime Command.