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The offence of making a “false instrument” in order that it may be accepted as genuine, thereby causing harm to others. Under the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981, an “instrument” may be a document, a stamp issued by the Post Office or HM Revenue, or any device (e.g. magnetic tape) in which information is recorded or stored. An instrument is considered to be “false” if, for example, it purports to have been made or altered (1) by or on the authority of someone who did not in fact do so; (2) on a date or at a place when it was not; or (3) by someone who is nonexistent. In addition to forgery itself, it is a criminal offence under the Act to copy or use a false instrument, knowing or believing it to be false. It is also an offence merely to have in one's possession or control any one of certain specified false instruments with the intention of passing them off as genuine. It is also an offence to make or possess any material that is meant to be used to produce any of the specified false instruments. These specified instruments include money or postal orders, stamps, share certificates, passports, cheques, cheque cards and credit cards, and copies of entries in a register of births, marriages, or deaths. All the above offences are punishable on indictment by up to ten years' imprisonment and upon summary trial to a fine at level 5 on the standard scale and/or six months' imprisonment.

The Act also deals with the offences of counterfeiting currency (notes or coin), with or without the intention of passing it off as genuine; possessing counterfeit currency; passing it off; making or possessing anything which can be used for counterfeiting; and importing or exporting counterfeit currency. It is also an offence to reproduce any British currency note (e.g. to photocopy a £5 note), even in artwork, and, under certain circumstances, to make an imitation British coin. Some of these offences are subject to the same penalties as forgery.

Subjects: Law — Bibliography.

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