Making or Using Counterfeit Money Offences & Defences in NSW

Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.

 

In March 2021, shoppers and traders across Tasmania were being urged to be vigilant after reports surfaced that counterfeit money was floating amongst the community.

In particular, it was found that businesses on the northwest coast were experiencing a spike in counterfeit notes being tendered.

Tasmania Police jumped on an investigation, with detectives receiving at least seven reports of false $50 and $100 notes tendered with Chinese writing printed on them.

Tasmania Police addressed the matter, advising in a statement that all businesses and staff were “urged to be vigilant when accepting money and to check notes are real, especially $50 and $100”.

“If anyone has a banknote in their possession and they are concerned about the authenticity, they should contact police immediately.”

Tasmania Police have since urged the public with any information regarding the production or purchasing of counterfeit notes to contact police or Crime Stoppers.

 

Reserve Bank of Australia Warns of Group of Counterfeiters That Injected More Than 5,800 Fake Notes into Australian Financial System

In 2017, the Reserve Bank of Australia detected a group of counterfeiters that injected more than 5,800 fake notes into the Australian financial system.

The majority of these notes – dubbed Source 37 counterfeits – were distinguished by cash-in-transit (CIT) companies which are designed to transport money, while the others were spotted by banks and retail organisations.

Addressing the matter in the Reserve Bank of Australia report, A Counterfeit Story: Operation Gridline, authors Kathryn Miegel and Kylie Symeonakis wrote, “While we would typically expect more counterfeits to be detected in transactions at retail outlets, the higher-than-average quality of Source 37 counterfeits meant that they were less likely to be noticed at the point of sale and were only detected after being received by a bank or CIT”.

“Banks and CITs are more likely to detect high-quality counterfeits than the general public because they process cash using machines that are able to detect counterfeits and their staff tend to be very experienced in handling cash.”

Ultimately, the counterfeits detected by the Reserve Bank of Australia totalled $540,000 to businesses and the community.

Nevertheless, the blow could have been significantly higher after the discovery by police of materials to produce more than $1.7 million in additional counterfeits.

Meanwhile, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia, in the 2019-20 financial year, there were 21,474 counterfeit banknotes detected across the country.

This totalled a whopping $1.63 million.

 

How to Spot a Fake Note

 Noting the aforementioned, the Reserve Bank of Australia has exposed nine signs that can help you distinguish if a banknote is fake.

If these features are not present, then you’re dealing with a counterfeit note:

  1. Coat of Arms
  2. Federation Star
  3. Clear Window
  4. Flying bird
  5. Reversing number
  6. Rolling colour effect
  7. Intaglio print
  8. Microprint
  9. Fluorescent ink

The Bank has also advised that you are well within your rights to refuse to accept a banknote if you have concerns about it.

Making or Using Counterfeit Money Offences & Defences in NSW

In Australia, uttering  or making counterfeit money or counterfeit prescribed security is a crime, the offence of which is set out in section 6 and s7 of the Crimes (Currency) Act 1981 (Cth).

Section 7 makes clear that is against the law for a person to utter counterfeit money, knowing it to be counterfeit money; or utter a counterfeit prescribed security, knowing it to be a counterfeit prescribed security. This carries up to 12-years imprisonment.

If this offence is committed by a body corporate, the maximum penalty is $66,000.

The penalty for making or to begin to make counterfeit money or counterfeit prescribed security carries up to 14-years imprisonment, according to section 6. If this is committed by a body corporate, the maximum penalty is a fine of up to $82,500.

What is ‘counterfeit money’? this means as any article, not being a genuine coin or genuine paper money, that resembles, or is apparently intended to resemble, or pass for, a genuine coin or genuine paper money; or any article, being a genuine coin or genuine paper money, that has been altered in a material respect and in such a manner as to conceal, or to be apparently intended to conceal, the alteration.

This includes any such article whether it is or is not in a fit state to be uttered and whether the process of manufacture or alteration is or is not complete.

Counterfeit prescribed security means any article, not being a prescribed security, that resembles, or is apparently intended to resemble, or pass for, a prescribed security; or any article, being a prescribed security, that has been altered in a material respect and in such a manner as to conceal, or to be apparently intended to conceal, the alteration.

This includes any such article whether it is or is not in a fit state to be uttered and whether the process of manufacture or alteration is or is not complete.

At state level, in NSW it is a crime attracting up to 10-years imprisonment for making or using counterfeit money, knowing it is a counterfeit, under section 192E of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). This offence is also known as dishonestly obtaining a benefit by deception.

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