Fake banknote spate in Canterbury

Release date
05 April 2019

The Reserve Bank is urging Canterbury retailers to check banknotes' security features after up to 50 counterfeits of different values were accepted at businesses over the past fortnight.

“People need to check notes they receive over the counter using the look, feel, tilt technique,” says Reserve Bank Head of Banking Steve Gordon. “These fakes don’t pass any of these tests which can be done quickly and easily as money is accepted and put in the till.”

“Looking at a genuine note you should see a window with the bird and value matching what’s on the note, the note and window will feel like plastic and smooth except for the denomination printing, and when you tilt the note a coloured bar will appear to move up and down the smaller printed bird,” Mr Gordon explained.

“If someone offers you a fake note politely decline it and urge the person concerned to contact the police. Then contact Christchurch police yourself and hold any security video,” he advised.

Mr Gordon said the counterfeits that had been accepted were picked up as they hit retailers’ back offices or the banking system, so there were no issues with ATMs.

The Reserve Bank’s website www.rbnz.govt.nz has videos and posters teaching the counterfeit detection technique. The Bank first got the word out to Christchurch business networks last week, but has now activated online advertising across Canterbury and issued this media statement as the spate continued.

“New Zealand’s banknotes and coins are among the most secure in the world, and counterfeit rates are extremely low,” Mr Gordon says. “We typically see one or two fakes a month hit the banking system, and the last time we had a counterfeit spate like this was in Palmerston North a year ago.”

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