Shops in South Tyneside have been warned to be on the lookout for counterfeit cash.
The warning comes after forged notes were handed to a shopkeeper in Lord Street, South Shields, by a man who bought several packets of tobacco with three £20 notes which were later found to be fake.
The fraudster was in his 30s, slim, with brown hair, and was wearing a checked cap, black jacket, dark trousers and dark shoes.
Officers have been visiting banks and retailers, reminding them to stay alert when taking cash.
Neighbourhood Inspector Peter Sutton said: “I’d ask people to be extra vigilant when receiving £20 notes and to make sure they are authentic. If they have any doubt about the authenticity of the money, they should contact their bank and not consider passing the money on.”
Alternatively, visit the Bank Of England website for tips and techniques to spot forgeries - https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Pages/other/takeacloserlook/default.aspx