'30m fake pound coins in circulation'

The number of fake £1 coins in circulation appears to have doubled in the last five years, it was reported today.

The results of a sampling test by the Royal Mint, obtained by the BBC, show that up to 2 per cent of all the pound coins in circulation may be fake - approximately 30 million coins.

The last time sampling test results were released was in 2003 when the number of forged pounds coins was estimated to be 1 per cent.

The BBC said it means that one in every 50 pound coins in circulation is counterfeit.

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.

He told the broadcaster: "In 2004, people started refusing to take the South African 5 Rand coin due to concerns about the number of counterfeits, and eventually the coin had to be redesigned and re-circulated.

"Independent surveys showed the number of counterfeits to be 2 per cent - the same as we've got here - and I'm worried that if we're not careful the same thing will happen to the pound coin."

In a statement, the Royal Mint said: "We track the counterfeit rate through regular surveys in the spring and autumn every year. The survey consists of taking a random sample of coins from across the country, and subjecting them to individual analytical inspection.

"It is a criminal offence to make or use counterfeited coins. Any member of the public who suspects they have a counterfeited coin should not attempt to spend it."



The BBC says that experts test for forgeries by studying lettering and the cross on the edge of the coin, whether the Queen's head is orientated the same way as the image on the reverse, and whether the marking is centred on the face.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral