Skip to main content

Wellington not ‘awash’ in fakes


Face and back of one of the counterfeit $50s. Note absence of watermark over Sir Apirana Ngata’s left shoulder and lack of details in transparent panels. (Image courtesy Detective Senior Sergeant Warwick McKee, New Zealand Police.)

In August New Zealand’s media reported that the country’s capital, Wellington, was “awash” with fake $50s. This may have been something of a journalistic exaggeration. The notes concerned were those currently being replaced by a new polymer issue.

Earlier in the month there were six reports of offenders using counterfeit bills to purchase goods. They then returned these items to another store for a refund in legitimate bank notes. This was the third such incidence in as many years.

Following investigations the New Zealand Police executed a search warrant on a property in the city on Aug. 11. They seized several printers before arresting three people who they charged with using a forged document.

Area Commander Chris Bensemann observed, “This is just an opportunity where offenders have used high-tech printers and have been able to produce a bank note that gives the appearance of being legitimate.”

The counterfeits are made out of thin paper but Bensemann noted, “It’s best not to rely on the feel of the notes. Real notes”…“can’t be ripped whereas the counterfeit notes that are being presented are made out of paper. In essence if you can rip the bank note, then it’s definitely counterfeit money.”

Following the crackdown the police continued to issue warnings that more fake $50 could still be circulating throughout the wider Wellington region. Anyone finding such a note was urged not to handle it more than necessary but put it in an envelope and ring the police.

Presumably the introduction of the new “brighter, smarter money” earlier this year may reduce such attempts to exploit the gullible who don’t check the notes in their hands as well as they might.

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.
>> Subscribe today or get your >> Digital Subscription

More Collecting Resources

• The Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money is the only annual guide that provides complete coverage of U.S. currency with today’s market prices.

• Check out the newly-updated Standard Catalog of World Coins, 2001-Date that provides accurate identification, listing and pricing information for the latest coin releases.