A counterfeiter seems hellbent on living out the adage that crime doesn't pay by spending a lot of time and money on producing a poor copy of the $1 coin.
The fake dollar coin came to the attention of Napier police when it was handed in by a woman who believed she may have been given it as change from Mega Mitre10 or The Warehouse last week.
Police are uncertain if the fake is one of many, or just a one-off.
A genuine New Zealand dollar is made of aluminium-bronze, has a diameter of 23 millimetres and weighs eight grams. Local jeweller Brendan Maartens said the fake, dated 2003, appeared to be cast in brass. It has a diameter of 22mm, weighs 5.4 grams and is thinner and of a lighter colour.
Reserve Bank spokeswoman Anthea Black said it was the first time she had heard of a counterfeit coin.
"Our coins go through a rigorous process and are all of uniform weight, size, composition, etcetera. It's certainly a fake. There is no chance of a dud coming out of the Mint," Ms Black said.
She said the fake would not be accepted by coin-operated machines due to its weight and thickness.
Trevor Astley, a director of Regal Castings, said if the coin had been made in New Zealand, someone was going to a lot of trouble for minimal gain. While casting is taught at several polytechnics, the equipment required to make a fake $1 coin would be reasonably expensive, Mr Astley said.
"It does seem like a lot of trouble to go to. If I was going to do it I'd at least go for the $2 coin. Your reward would be doubled for the same amount of work," he said.
"Brass is cheap and if you've got the equipment, there's negligible cost. It's quite labour-intensive. I think you'd struggle to produce 30 to 50 coins a day with one mould. If you were dedicated to your cause, you could probably make several hundred a week, possibly a thousand if you had several moulds."
It would be very cheap to have fake coins made in China, he said.
- The Dominion Post
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