Police uncover suspected coin counterfeiting operation

Regular surveys by the Royal Mint since 2002 have indicated a gradual increase in the volume of counterfeit £1 coins in circulation. Photo: PA

Three men have been arrested and tens of thousands of suspected counterfeit coins have been seized in a large-scale police operation in Wombourne in Staffordshire.

Up to 20 officers took part in a warrant under the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act at the unit on Heathmill Industrial Estate.

Police discovered several thousand stamped and finished ‘£1' coins and approximately 50 thousand blank coins.

Suspected coin pressing and other machinery on a large scale was also found.

Officials from the Royal Mint also attended the premises to assist police with their investigation.

A 41-year-old man from the Spalding area, a 43-year-old man from the Tipton area and a 53-year-old man from the Bridgnorth area were all arrested on suspicion of counterfeiting £1 coins.

All three were taken into custody at Shrewsbury Police Station, where they are due to be interviewed.

Detective Chief Inspector Alan Edwards, head of CID in Shropshire said:

"The suspected counterfeit coins found are very high quality and would be extremely difficult to tell apart from a genuine £1 coin."

– Detective Chief Inspector Alan Edwards

Regular surveys by the Royal Mint since 2002 have indicated a gradual increase in the volume of counterfeit £1 coins in circulation. The most recent survey indicated a counterfeit rate of just over three per cent.

So, how do you spot a counterfeit coin? It's not always easy but below are a few tips from The Royal Mint.

  • The date and design on the reverse do not match (the reverse design is changed each year)
  • The lettering or inscription on the edge of the coin does not correspond to the right year.
  • The milled edge is poorly defined and the lettering is uneven in depth, spacing or is poorly formed.
  • The obverse and reverse designs are not as sharp or well defined.Where the coin should have been in circulation for some time, the colouring appears more shiny and golden and the coin shows no sign of age.
  • The colour of the coin does not match genuine coins.The orientation of the obverse and reverse designs is not in line.