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Last Updated: Monday September 22 2008 13:06 GMT

Millions more fake 1 coins in UK

Real pound coins

What do you think you can buy with a pound, a fizzy drink and a packet of crisps, or perhaps a couple of bars of chocolate?

Well, before you take a trip to the shops, make sure you take a close look at your coins, because you might not have as much cash as you think.

The number of fake 1 coins in pockets and shops across the country has DOUBLED in the last five years.

That means one in every 50 coins is fake, so check your cash carefully!

IS MY POUND FAKE?
Real coin on left, fake coin on right
Here are some tips on how to tell:
The lettering on the edge of the coin might look strange
If you hold the coin so the Queen's head is upright and facing you - the pattern on the back should be upright too. If not, it's probably fake!
A fake coin might be the wrong colour, but remember real coins can also go strange colours.
Finally - the Queen's face should be right in the middle of the coin. If not, it could be fake.

The fake coins are causing loads of problems for businesses that use a lot of small change, like shopkeepers and taxi drivers.

Real pound coins are made at the Royal Mint in south Wales, and it's illegal to make fake ones.

Police

Experts believe the fakes are being produced by criminals and gangs using special machines.

If you think you've found a dodgy coin, DON'T try and spend it, hand it into a police station.

Pound coins were first made in 1983 - before that, people used pound notes.