Organised criminals involved in currency counterfeiting in the UK produce a variety of banknote types, including Bank of England, Scottish sterling, Northern Ireland sterling, and Euro notes. They also produce counterfeit Royal Mint coins.
During 2014, the number of counterfeit Bank of England banknotes taken out of circulation was around 430,000 with a face value of £8.05m. This was a reduction from 693,000 banknotes with a face value of £11.76m in 2013. 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.
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.
If you have been handed counterfeit currency you should report it to the police.
For information on how to identify genuine UK currency please visit the Bank of England website, the Association of Commercial Banknote Issuers (Scottish & Northern Irish banknote issuers) or the Royal Mint website.
The Economic Crime command leads the NCA's fight against counterfeit currency. Find out more about the Economic Crime Command.