POLICE are warning residents and businesses to be on their guard as counterfeit bank notes are being used in Ringwood.

The £10 and £20 notes were given to staff at Ringwood Surplus Stores and Holland and Barrett.

Nicky Wood, who owns the Surplus Stores, said: “One member of staff was presented with a very good £10 copy last week. Fortunately the staff are trained in identifying counterfeits, but sometimes they will slip past.

“Very often the person presenting the note distracts the member of staff so they become less vigilant. And usually the person with the forgery is spending just 50p or £1 so they get real money back.

“We lost about £40 in one day because we took the notes. I do warn my customers and my staff are very vigilant because these notes could be so easily passed on to elderly people. We do try to look after each other.

“Every trader needs to be aware of the problem, because it is money lost. The banks will not accept them. Now we use a quick cash tester, always.”

Stephanie Stoker, of Holland and Barrett, said they also use a cash testing device because they have been presented with several forged notes this year.

She said: “We received a very good £10 copy last week. We knew it was a fake because the Bank of England wording was flat and not raised, but unless you know what to look for they can easily slip through.

“The problem is the notes are becoming more superior and it is very difficult to tell them apart.”

Inspector Simon Tribe said: “We are aware that we have had problems with counterfeit notes in circulation. If anyone does become aware of a note, please contact us so we can collect it and use the notes as part of our investigations.

“If we can identify similarities in the counterfeit notes then it will assist us in our inquiries and they will be used to make arrests.

“We made successful arrests earlier in the year.

“When people are taking notes, look at them and make sure it looks genuine.

“Recently we have had notes which, although they look genuine, on closer inspection they have had the same serial number.

“We recognise this is an ongoing problem for shop owners and we will do as much as we can to help. If anyone is suspicious they should refuse the transaction and report the incident to the police by calling 101 or 0845 045 4545.”