The UK market for counterfeit currency
The market for counterfeit currency has changed over the last ten years. High quality counterfeit paper 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.
It is likely that the introduction of polymer notes will reduce the ability of organised crime groups to mass produce counterfeits.
Organised criminals involved in currency counterfeiting often come 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.
Functions of the UK National Central Office for the Suppression of Counterfeit Currency and Protected Coins (UKNCO)
Key functions of our UKNCO are to:
- Maintain records and undertake analysis relating to counterfeit currency detected within the UK, including secure storage, retention and production for courts. This analysis also assists the NCA and our partners mitigate identified and emerging risks
- Provide prosecution statements of expert evidence on counterfeit currency detected in the UK in support of criminal prosecutions
- Pursue operational activity as well as supporting partners’ operational activity across all UK criminal investigations into counterfeit currency
- Develop intelligence concerning counterfeit currency production and trafficking within the UK and beyond
- Support domestic and international partners on counterfeit currency issues
Report counterfeit currency
If you have been handed counterfeit currency you must report it to the police.
How to identify counterfeit currency
For information on how to identify genuine UK currency please visit the:
- Bank of England website
- Association of Commercial Banknote Issuers (Scottish & Northern Irish banknote issuers)
- Royal Mint