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  • Scammers are selling counterfeit bank notes on social media sites 
  • Research by No1 Currency shows they are paying to advertise online 
  • And there are concerns the fraudsters are taking the most vulnerable 

Fraudsters are brazenly advertising counterfeit banknotes on social media, even offering ‘bulk buy’ discounts for their fake cash, to the most vulnerable,  a major currency firm warns. 

Social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram and X are awash with carefully targeted adverts offering free postage and discounts on counterfeit notes.

The adverts show wads of £10 and £20 notes as well as high-denomination Euro notes, claiming the fake cash is realistic enough to pass security checks.

Fraudsters are brazenly advertising fake banknotes on social media, currency firm warns

Flash the fake cash: Criminals are using social media to sell counterfeit bank notes 

Criminals are selling fake notes online at a fraction of the face value of what real notes are worth, according to exclusive research for This is Money by No1 Currency. 

One criminal was selling £14,000 of counterfeit notes for £1,200, and £150,000 of the fake cash for £10,000. 

This is Money’s own research shows one criminal with wads of ‘top quality polymer bank notes’ advertising on Facebook in recent weeks, while another had been posting since February. 

In 2023, typically less than 1 in 40,000 banknotes were counterfeit, according to the Bank of England.

However, research by travel money firm No1 Currency found that some scammers are paying for sponsored posts to appear on the social media timelines of vulnerable people.

The cookies which record which websites you use help to deliver the adverts you see on social media, so those struggling to make ends meet are especially likely to be targeted.

The firm says that those behind the ads are committing an offence, while the unwary who part with their money to buy the fake notes risk either being scammed if their notes don’t arrive, or committing an offence themselves.

An Instagram account offers 'bulk buy' discounts for counterfeit notes

An Instagram account offers ‘bulk buy’ discounts for counterfeit notes 

Even if the banknotes do arrive, they are worthless and any shop or bank which receives one is obliged to confiscate it and notify the authorities.

Simon Phillips, managing director at No1 Currency said: ‘It is worrying to see organised criminals advertising so brazenly on social media. 

‘Their slick ads offer a dangerous fantasy – the chance to buy supposedly realistic looking banknotes for a fraction of their face value.

‘The reality is that modern banknotes are bristling with security features – from holograms and precision printing to distinctive metal inserts placed within the multi-layer polymer construction.

‘The social media companies must do more to tackle such blatantly fraudulent activity. If criminals are able to pay to advertise their services so openly, it suggests there is something seriously rotten in the approvals process at these tech giants.’

Tech companies have come under increased scrutiny for the role they play in how criminals target their victims.

Our sister title Money Mail has been campaigning for the Government to force tech companies to step in and stop the scammers.

Last year, we revealed a new recruitment scam circulating on Whatsapp and how Facebook Marketplace had become a hotbed of scammers.

While big tech firms, including Meta, eBay, Google and Amazon, have signed a voluntary ‘Online Fraud Charter’, scams are still rife online.

A spokesman for Meta told This Is Money: ‘Fraudulent activity is not allowed on our platforms and we remove this content as soon as it is identified. 

‘We are continually investing in new technologies to tackle this industry-wide issue, and encourage people to report activity like this to us and the police, so we can take action.’

Top tips for spotting fake bank notes 

Simon Phillips, of No1 Currency, gives his four top tips for spotting counterfeit bank notes and ensuring you have the real thing for your holiday.

  • Forgers don’t always think big: It’s tempting to assume that high denomination notes, such as £50 or 500 Euro notes, are the most likely to be fakes. In fact most forgeries tend to be of the most commonly used denominations, such as £20 and 20 Euro notes, though we do also come across fake 50 Euro and $100 bills.
  • Do your own checks: Many fake notes have tell-tale giveaways despite looking superficially like the real thing. Check the colours are still bright and haven’t faded, make sure any holographic foils have lots of detail and are the same on each note. Look out for spelling mistakes in the text and hold the note up to the light to check for watermarks or embedded bars. US Dollars of any denomination are all exactly the same size, so a simple trick you can do to check your Greenbacks are genuine is to put them in a pile to see if any stick out as larger or smaller.
  • Cash is king when you travel, so make sure you get your holiday money from a reputable exchange: Even if you don’t use cash every day at home, many of us like to take foreign currency notes when we go abroad. Specialist travel money providers like No1 Currency handle thousands of notes every day and use the latest technology, not to mention experienced counter staff, to root out fakes and provide genuine notes, whatever currency you’re exchanging.
  • If you’re unsure, don’t risk it: Remember that knowingly spending, or trying to spend, a fake banknote or coin is a crime in many countries, including the UK. If you think you’ve been given a fake bill in your change, don’t attempt to spend it. Report it to the authorities instead. While fakes have no monetary value, you may receive some compensation for doing the right thing.





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