The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is urging retailers to be vigilant to potential ‘fake cash’ which may be in circulation in the lead up to Chinese New Year celebrations on 25 January.
The AFP is aware of an increase in the importation of what is referred to as ‘joss paper’ and Chinese Training Notes, printed to resemble Australian banknotes and used as part of Hell Bank Money ceremonies and Chinese New Year festivities, with concerns the ‘fake currency’ could enter into circulation to be used as legal tender.
AFP Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling said the AFP and its state law enforcement partners had detected and seized a number of shipments of joss paper with a face value of more than $17.3 million dollars since 2014.
“The differences between imitation notes used in these celebrations and Australian currency may appear obvious to most, however we’ve seen over $500,000 (face value) of joss paper, which appears to replicate Australian currency, passed through an assortment of retailers, licensed venues and family run businesses over this same period,” she said.
“We are reminding the public to be aware of the security features that are present on all genuine Australian banknotes and help to determine if it is real currency. Australian currency is also made from more durable materials, specifically polymer, compared to paper based currencies that these fake notes usually consist of.”
Detective Superintendent Crossling said the AFP together with the Reserve Bank of Australia and state and territory law enforcement agencies work in partnership to manage the threat of counterfeiting in Australia.
“Understanding the intended purpose for importing joss paper is not intentionally criminal, we are urging members of the public, retailers and importers to be aware that the importation, sale, possession and usage (utterance) of these fake banknotes, with the intention of leading a retailer to believe that it is genuine Australian currency, constitute offences under the Crimes (Currency) Act 1981,” she said.
“Penalties for offences within this Act range from fines, not exceeding $2,000, up to a maximum of 12 years imprisonment.”
“If a member of the public believes they have been victim of such offences, we encourage them to report it to local or federal authorities.”