Detecting the Fakes, Forensic Technology Plays its Part in War Against Counterfeiting

new 12-sided pound coin 

the new £1 coin has 12-sides and includes numerous security features

This week, a new 12-sided £1 coin will enter circulation. Produced by the Royal Mint, the new coin is slimmer, lighter, and features a bi-metallic construction similar to the larger £2 coin. But why, with more than 1.3 billion of the existing £1 coins currently in circulation, is the Mint replacing the old round pound?

foster+freeman design and manufacture a range of advanced scientific instruments for the examination of forensic evidence including counterfeit banknotes and coins. When the company conducted in-house studies, seeking to develop a reliable means of discriminating between genuine and counterfeit £1 coins, researchers were surprised to discover that as many as 4% of the coins tested were fake.

Using the foster+freeman ECCO, a Laser Induced Breakdown Spectrometer that can identify the trace elements contained within a material, researchers were able to quickly and easily differentiate between genuine coins and very high quality fakes by their elemental composition. Undetectable without specialised equipment, the counterfeit coins contained traces of iron that were not present in any of the genuine nickel-brass coins.

Direct impact on businesses and consumers

As well as lining the pockets of criminal gangs, counterfeit money undermines the credibility of a national currency and has a direct impact on the innocent businesses and consumers that are fooled by it.

Described by the Royal Mint as “the most secure coin in the world”, the new £1 coin employs a raft of innovative new security measures including hologram and microscopic lettering, which together with a hidden secure feature, have been designed to safeguard the coin against counterfeiters for years to come.


examining counterfeit coins

Differences in their elemental composition can reveal fake coins



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