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09 February 2024, 11:39am
Media Release

‘Fake’ cash warning for expected influx during Lunar New Year celebrations

Editor's note: Audio from AFP Detective Sergeant Peter Comatas available via Hightail

A cash resurgence in coming weeks may not be all it seems, with the AFP warning retailers to be alert to a potential surge of counterfeit currency in the lead-up to Chinese New Year celebrations.

The AFP is urging the community to be vigilant to potential forms of fake cash, known as ‘joss paper’ and Chinese Training Notes, which are printed to resemble Australian currency for use in traditional Hell Bank Money ceremonies and Chinese New Year festivities. These are legitimate cultural activities, but it is illegal to try and use these notes as legal tender.

In the last decade more than 608,000 individual notes have been detected or seized by the AFP and its law enforcement partners.

In the past 12 months, 2468 joss paper notes have been detected or seized.

AFP Detective Sergeant Peter Comatas said it was crucial for retailers to be wary of fake currency entering circulation and being used as legal tender during this time of year.

“For many, the differences between imitation notes used in traditional celebrations and Australian currency may appear obvious. However, we have seen tens of thousands of dollars of joss paper pass through retailers and licensed venues in recent years,” they said.

“The Australian banknote includes a number of security elements to help identify it as real currency, and the Reserve Bank of Australia website has some handy checklists. An easy way to tell is that genuine Australian banknotes are made from durable materials, specifically polymer, while counterfeit currency is typically paper-based.”

The AFP works closely alongside the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), as well as state and territory law enforcement agencies, to combat the threat of counterfeiting in Australia.

“Importing joss paper for cultural uses is not criminal however, we urge the community to be aware the importation, sale, possession and use of these fake banknotes with the intention of misleading a retailer is a criminal offence, under the Crimes (Currency) Act 1981”, Detective Sergeant Peter Comatas said.

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