Counterfeit money warning

Queensland Police are warning small businesses to be on the look out for counterfeit money

Detectives from the Logan Criminal Investigation Branch are warning local businesses and members of the community to be vigilant after a recent increase in counterfeit currency circulating throughout the Browns Plains policing division.

Officers are investigating several incidents where counterfeit $50 notes have been used to purchase goods in areas including the Browns Plains, Marsden and Crestmead suburbs.

Offences have occurred in a range of different retail and service businesses, the Police say.

Police are urging business owners and customer service employees to be mindful of people presenting large value notes for low value purchases.

“This is a timely reminder for all customer service employees to check the quality of all $50 and $100 notes before giving change to a customer.”

“Advice on how to identify counterfeit notes is available through the Reserve Bank of Australia website, but you should check notes for the security features including the coat of arms watermark, the clear plastic window is part of the note and not stuck on, and the Southern Cross stars look genuine and do not scratch off with moderate rubbing,” said Detective Acting Inspector Scott Furlong.

The Reserve Bank of Australia offers the following information on how to spot fake notes:

1 – is it plastic?

Australian banknotes are printed on plastic and have a distinct feel. A suspect banknote may feel excessively thick or thin compared to a genuine banknote. It is difficult to start a tear along the edge of a genuine banknote. You can also try scrunching the banknote in your hand – a genuine banknote should spring back.

2 – look for the coat of arms

If you hold the banknote to the light, you should see the Australian Coat of Arms.

3 – look for the star

Diamond-shaped patterns are printed inside a circle on both sides of the banknote. If you hold the banknote up to the light, the patterns should line up perfectly to form a seven-pointed star.

4 – check the clear window

The clear window should be an integral part of the banknote and not an addition. Check that the white image printed on the window cannot be easily rubbed off. Also look for the embossing – there is a wave pattern in the window of the $10 banknote, and the value of the banknote in the windows of $20, $50 and $100 banknotes.

Other security features

Other security features to check if you suspect a banknote might be counterfeit:

An example of microprint.

5 – feel the dark printing

It is produced with a special raised ink that can be felt with your finger.

6 – check the print quality

The background printing should be sharp. Check for irregularities such as less clearly defined patterns, thicker or thinner lines, or colour differences.

7 – look for the microprinting

Under a magnifying glass you will see tiny, clearly defined words on the top left corner of the $5 banknote and near the portraits on the other banknotes.

An example of text glowing under a UV light.

8 – look at the banknote under UV light

Most of the banknote should not fluoresce. The exceptions are the serial numbers, a patch on the $5 banknote and a patch on the $20, $50 and $100 banknotes that also shows the value (e.g. 50).


Common myths about banknotes

Myth: Banknotes without the printed name below the portrait are counterfeit.

Fact: A banknote without the name of the person below the portrait is not necessarily counterfeit. Printed names were added to Australian banknotes from 2002. This was done to help the public identify the people that our banknotes feature.

To determine the year a banknote was produced, look at the first two numerals of the serial number e.g. 99 means the banknote was printed in 1999, while 03 means the banknote was printed in 2003.

Myth: The Governor’s signature is always above the Secretary to the Treasury’s.

Fact: The order of the signatures on Australian banknotes was changed in 2002. Since then, the Governor’s signature has been printed above that of the Secretary to the Treasury.


Dealing with suspect banknotes

It is an offence to knowingly possess counterfeit banknotes. Suspect banknotes should be given to State or Federal police. If they prove to be genuine banknotes, you will receive full value for them.

If you come across a banknote that you suspect is counterfeit:

  • Handle the suspect banknote as little as possible and store it in an envelope.
  • Note any relevant information, such as how it came into your possession.
  • Report the matter immediately to State or Federal police.

You are well within your rights to refuse to accept a banknote if you have concerns about it.

Under no circumstances should you take actions that may jeopardise your safety or that of others.


If you have information for police, contact Policelink on 131 444 or provide information using the online form 24hrs per day.

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