Businesses warned over flood of high-quality forged €20 notes
Gardai have issued a warning to retailers over high-quality forged €20 notes which have flooded onto the market.
The fake notes have been detected in Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Waterford, Tipperary and Kildare.
It is feared that the forgers are now using festivals and major events to distribute the notes.
By using €20 rather than €50 notes, the forgers are also making it more difficult for retailers to detect the fakes given the sheer volume handled on a daily basis.
While €50 notes are routinely scanned with UV 'swipe' technology, €20 notes are only occasionally checked.
Unlike most forgeries, these €20 notes use high-quality paper, very similar to real cotton-based euros.
The discoveries came just months after gardai smashed a forgery network.
The network, being run by a Dublin-based crime gang, resulted in the seizure of almost €2m worth of forged notes.
But gardai also found two printing machines capable of producing notes to a quality very similar to genuine euro currency.
The presses had been imported from Europe.
Gardai are investigating whether other similar printing presses may now be in operation.
Detectives urged retailers to carefully check euro notes using the usual safety features including raised print, micro-printing, see-through numbering, a watermark, security strip and glossy stripe.
The notes are being passed in transactions ranging from €40 to €250.
One retailer was caught for €240 when fake notes were passed during a purchase of electronic goods.
Gardai said shop owners should use 'swipe' scanning technology if it is available.
"The rule is to check all cash that is passed whether it is a €20, €50 or €100 note," a garda said.
"Even high-quality forgeries can be detected with the naked eye using all the safety checks," he added.
Lee McCarthy, of Lennox's chipper in Cork, said it was very difficult to spot "dodgy notes" because so many people pay with €20 bills and you would "often have queues out the door on a normal night".
He said they knew you had to be careful with €50 notes but dodgy €20 notes were fairly new. "You can never be too careful with the notes coming in over the counter."