Damaged notes spark forgery fear

TAKE NOTE: Railway Hotel owner Steve Hooper is finding $50 notes with the holographic windows cut out in pokie machines. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
TAKE NOTE: Railway Hotel owner Steve Hooper is finding $50 notes with the holographic windows cut out in pokie machines. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet

A NORTH Bundaberg hotel owner who is finding mutilated banknotes in his poker machines fears they are the result of a counterfeit attempt.

Railway Hotel owner Steve Hooper said he had found about five $50 notes in his machines with the transparent windows cut out.

"It's been going on for about two weeks," he said.

"I'd say it's probably just one person.

"I reckon it's counterfeiters but you can never be sure. Why else would they do that?"

Mr Hooper said his theory was the notes were being copied on a photocopier using high-quality paper, and the clear sections were used to make them look more real.

He said he was not sure if they were legal tender without the transparent section, but he sent them to the bank anyway and let the bank decide.

Mr Hooper said since the notes were found inside the pokies, the machines must have accepted them.

He said it was very unusual to find notes mutilated in that way

. "I didn't think much of it when I found the first one, but then I found two or three more," he said.

"There's definitely something going on."

Mr Hooper said it was very difficult to keep an eye on his poker machines in an effort to catch whoever may have been responsible

. "It's difficult to keep track of because there are no cameras above where the notes go in," he said.

Bundaberg Police Acting Senior Sergeant Mick Ward said the police often received reports of counterfeit banknotes.

"Sometimes the Mint changes the design or colour of notes," he said.

"There are obviously a lot of indicators in the notes the Mint puts out."

But he said the police would be very interested in investigating

"I've never run across this modus operandi before," he said.

Acting Snr Sgt Ward said the notes would probably still be legal tender.

"There is a degree of damage that makes it not legal tender," he said.

"If a note is torn and there's just a quarter of it or if the serial number is not visible then it is not legal tender," he said

. Acting Snr Sgt Ward said if a bank received damaged notes they were sent to the Mint, where they would be destroyed.

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