Aussies warned about rise in counterfeit cash

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Australians are being warned to remain vigilant after a number of fake banknotes were handed to police. The $50 notes were handed to authorities by a small business in Darwin last week after they noticed the notes had several flaws. “The note had a paper texture and the security window had visible defects, having been glued on,” Northern Territory Police said.

Queensland Police also issued an alert earlier this year, when counterfeit $100 notes were found circulating around the Bundaberg area. 

From 2019 to 2021, police seized over 382,000 counterfeit banknotes. Valued at over $30 million, the notes bore a strong resemblance to genuine banknotes and were accepted as real cash before being confiscated by police.

How to tell if your cash is counterfeit

Australia’s counterfeit rates are low compared to the rest of the world. However, this doesn't stop fraudsters from trying to replicate the notes. Genuine Australian banknotes have a distinct feel, using polymer plastic and holographic imagery. To determine if the cash in your possession is counterfeit, we recommend checking for the following:

  • Counterfeit cash might feel thicker or thinner than real cash 
  • Make sure you can see the Australian coat of arms when lifted to the light 
  • Use a UV light to see a bird, the serial number, and year of print become fluorescent 
  • Check the security window cannot be rubbed off
  • You can see diamond-shaped patterns printed inside a circle on each side of the note
  • The note’s background should be sharp, clear, and free from colour irregularities

Additionally, most counterfeits are printed on paper, not plastic, and won’t crumble or tear the same way genuine cash does. So if you crumble the cash, it should return to shape. 

The RBA also has a full list of security features on Australia’s banknotes, so you can know exactly what to look for. 

If you come into possession of a counterfeit, the RBA recommends handling it as little as possible and placing it into an envelope to give to the police.

Hannah Geremia
Written by
Hannah Geremia
Hannah has had over six years of experience in researching, writing, and editing quality content. She loves gaming, dancing, and animals, and can usually be found under a weighted blanket with a cup of coffee and a book.

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