LONDON: An investigation has been launched by the Bank of England into fake new £5 notes. The central bank has admitted there have been cases of the design being passed off on paper and police have warned about fake notes being in circulation. The new polymer format, which was launched last year, was thought to be impossible to counterfeit. The new £5 note on display in Drake Circus prior to its launch last year. But police in Dorset have warned that counterfeit new five pound notes were circulating in the area. The fake notes have been spotted in the Bearwood and Kinson areas, near Poole, but others could be in circulation closer to Sherborne and Gillingham. Since the new note officially entered circulation in September 2016, the Bank has been singing its praises, claiming that they are “harder to counterfeit than paper notes”. The Bank said on Friday it was unaware of any forgeries of the new polymer £5 note, but it said the note’s design had been crudely copied on to paper in a very small number of cases. A spokeswoman for the Bank suggested it may be possible that the fake notes were fresh, uncirculated examples of the outgoing £5 note – not new polymer notes.
Here are six things to look for:
- Check the see-through window and the portrait of the Queen.
- Check the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) is gold on the front of the note and silver on the back.
- Check the foil patch below the see-through window changes from ‘Five’ to ‘Pounds’ when the note is tilted.
- Check the coronation crown appears 3D (wiggle the note to see the effect).
- Check the ultra-violet feature (a ‘5’ will appear at the bottom left when UV light is shone on it).
- Check the circular green foil patch on the back of the note which contains the word BLENHEIM – after Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill who appears on the note.
If any one of these things looks odd or feels unusual, call 101 and tell the police. Do not take the note to your local bank or building society. The old £5 notes, featuring Elizabeth Fry, will cease to be legal tender on May 5.