I spend last summer in London and went through a lot of one-pound coins. These coins are heavily used and well-worn. At the time I wondered if counterfeiting of the high-denomination coin was a problem. This week the Sheffield Telegraph published a story about counterfeit pound coins showing up in their town. According to a new Royal Mint report, up to two per cent of all the pound coins in circulation may be fake. -EditorCrooks are trying to sell bags of counterfeit cash on the streets of Sheffield, The Star can reveal today. The revelation comes after the Royal Mint revealed the amount of forged coins in circulation has doubled in five years.
George Glover, chairman of the Moor Market Federation, said stallholders have been approached by people selling bags of fake #20 coins for #13 - and telling them to pass on to unsuspecting customers as change.
He said market traders often have problems checking whether coins are genuine because scrutinising each one would cause hold-ups for customers and lose them business.
Coin collector Trevor Lovett, from Barnsley, was handed a poor-quality fake pound coin as change in a Sheffield city centre pub.
He said: "If you check your change immediately, you can refuse it, but after that, there is very little you can do.
"You can identify fakes easily, however, because of their poor quality, different weight and, with mine, the Queen's head and design on the opposite side were not the matching way up."
Mr Lovett has kept his as a memento but police have warned that people are committing a criminal offence if they try to pass them on.
Insp Neil Mutch, who is in charge of Sheffield city centre safer neighbourhood team, added: "Anyone offered bags of fake coins should report it - we would like to hear information about large-scale counterfeiting.
"Anyone who finds they have been given a fake #1 coin should be aware that passing it on is an offence and the appropriate action is to take it into a bank."
The results of a sampling test by the Royal Mint showed that nationwide, up to two per cent of all the pound coins in circulation may be fake - approximately 30 million coins and double the level of five years ago.
Robert Matthews, formerly the Queen's Assay Master until he retired to become a coin consultant four years ago, said confidence in coins collapsed in other countries when forgery rates reached similar levels.
To read the complete article, see: City's fake coins alert (http://www.sheffieldtelegraph.co.uk/news2/
Wayne Homren, Editor
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