CURRENCY thought to be counterfeit has turned out to be an elderly man's buried treasure after $8700 in $100 notes passed at Evans Head's Illawong Hotel were found the be genuine.
Ballina detectives were called to the Illawong Hotel on Tuesday, October 20, after a Summerland Credit Union teller identified $1700 in suspected counterfeit $100 notes when she wet her finger and the ink on the notes began to run.
Publican Daniel Simpson showed officers CCTV footage of the hotel on Saturday October 17, which showed a regular 72-year-old patron passing the notes.
Mr Simpson told the detectives the man lived at Evans Head's Silver Sands Caravan Park and when they went to his home police seized a further $7000 of the suspected forgeries.
On the same day the man attended Ballina police station where he was charged with utter counterfeit currency, possessing prohibited currency and granted conditional bail to appear at Ballina Local Court in November.
Investigations into the counterfeit $100 notes continued with detectives sending the suspect notes to the Australian Federal Police for analysis.
The Australian Federal Police then passed the suspected fake notes onto the Reserve Bank's counterfeit detection department.
Richmond Local Area Command acting Inspector Russell Ewing said the notes had been analysed and they were found not to be counterfeit.
"The money, when buried under the ground, there has been some sort of chemical reaction with the notes," he said.
"That has made the notes appear to obviously be counterfeit on face value.
"Upon further analysis the notes have been determined to be non-counterfeit."
Insp Ewing said police will reconsider the charges laid against the 72-year-old man.
"The notes are now faulty and they can't be used in circulation," he said.
A Reserve Bank spokesman said Mr Simpson and the 72-year-old man can each claim for the $1700 and $7000 amounts of suspect currency through the bank as the notes will be removed from circulation.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.