From the archive: Counterfeit coins top £30m - 23 September, 2008

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The number of fake £1 coins in circulation appears to have doubled in the past five years, it was reported yesterday.

The results of a sampling test by the Royal Mint, obtained by the BBC, show that up to 2 per cent of all pound coins in circulation may be fake – approximately 30 million coins.

The last time sampling results were released was in 2003, when the number of forged £1 coins was estimated at 1 per cent. The BBC said it means that one in every 50 of the £1 coins in circulation was counterfeit.

Robert Matthews, formerly the Queen’s Assay Master until he retired to become a coin consultant four years ago, said confidence in coins collapsed in other countries when forgery rates reached similar levels.

The Royal Mint said: “The survey consists of taking a random sample of coins from across the country and subjecting them to individual analytical inspection.”