Japan's vending machines are no match for counterfeit coins

Counterfeit coins and bills are hard to make and with the advancement of technology, hard to pass for genuine money. Store clerks are armed with a variety of techniques, from special pens to knowledge of watermark placement, making it even more difficult for those looking for undeserved cash to score big.

However, with the proliferation of vending machines across Japan and the circulation of a high-value 500 yen (US$5) coin, counterfeiters have a perfect mark for cashing in their fake coins, as a recent photo on Twitter confirms.

The photo that started it all was posted to Twitter by user toybox2002:

▼ “A fake 500 yen coin from a vending machine somewhere in Akihabara. Is this the start of the circulation of counterfeit coins?”

No, not an unbelievably valuable mint-made error coin, this intentionally-made disc is able to fool vending machines by possessing the same weight, shape, and outer design as a genuine 500 yen coin. Here’s an actual 500 yen coin for reference:


As high-tech as Japanese vending machines are, they don’t read the face of the coins like bill receptors do, making the machines a counterfeiter’s paradise. Here’s just a small sampling of counterfeit coins from Google search:

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 4.44.21 PM

The coins with small divots drilled into them are actually 500 won coins. They were used as counterfeit coins prior to August of 2000, when a new 500 yen coin was minted to combat the use of comparatively cheap 500 won coins.

Netizen reactions to the Twitter photo were split…and some were a little confused:

“This is actually really cool, isn’t it?”

“This is the first time I’ve hear of counterfeit coins.”

“I thought they took care of this problem back in 2000…”

“It’s really cool, but you’re out!”

“What should you do in this situation?! Call the police?”

So if you’re ever in Akihabara buying a drink from a vending machine, take a look at the change you receive. You might just get a very expensive souvenir.

Source: Byoukan Sunday
Image: Twitter (toybox2002), Wikipedia