Woman who paid £250 for a ‘rare’ 50p warns of scammers operating on eBay


A coin collector who bought a convincing 50p Aquatics fake worth up to £1,000 is warning coin lovers not to be surprised by counterfeit items advertised as a real deal

A fake Aquatics 50p
Many counterfeit coins are sold as real ones, like this Aquatics 50p

A woman who bought a collectors value 50p for £250 later revealed fake warns Brits to be aware cheater pass shady coins as real ones.

The case highlights the darker underbelly of coin collecting – and the mysterious counterfeit coins that are flooding the market.

Jane Fallon, 62, paid £249 for 50p that were part of the London 2012 Olympic Games Series.

Known among collectors as the “Aquatics 50p”, the coin features a swimmer’s head on one side and the Queen’s head on the other.

Jane, who lives in Greater Manchester, snagged her 50p in 2017 and added it to her collection.

She bought the coin on eBay from an account held by another coin collector.

Jane thought she bought a rare version of the Aquatics 50p which was worth up to £1,000 for collectors.

Two versions of the coin were minted, one with waves running down the swimmer’s face and one with the face unobscured.

If you have a rare coin – or counterfeit – and would like to speak to us, email

A real Aquatics 50p



The former was phased out, making it more valuable, and Jane thought she had bought it.

But when Jane decided to resell the coin many years later, she realized something was wrong.

Other keen-eyed collectors saw the ad and began contacting her to say the item did not look genuine.

Signs that the coin is not genuine include the positioning of the “C” in the word “pence” and the thickness of the lines depicting water waves.

She immediately took down the listing and contacted the original seller, managing to speak to his daughter.

Jane was told the seller was unavailable because he was on holiday abroad.

“I said ‘yes, on my money’ to his daughter,” Jane said.

The seller’s daughter promised he would call back, but he didn’t – and has now deleted his eBay account.

“I knew I was done and it was fake when I didn’t get the call,” Jane said.

Not worth £1,000 or even £249, the coin is effectively worthless.

Jane says she was once an avid coin collector with around 60 items in her stash.

She first started collecting coins for her own amusement and to leave something for her loved ones when she dies.

But she says realizing the coin was fake put her off her hobby.

The newer version of the 50p shown by British and European swimming champion Jazz Carlin



“My heart is not in it now,” she said. “I just wanted to warn people, too many people are being ripped off.”

A Change Checker spokesperson said: “In the case of the Aquatics 50p, this coin is highly sought after by collectors. The one we know is a modified version that doesn’t show waves running across the swimmer’s face.

“The original version that has been withdrawn has an unconfirmed circulation number. This drives up collector demand and it is not uncommon for these special coins to change hands for close to £1,000.

“So if you have an opportunist who saw these coins sold well above face value, you have a recipe for a counterfeiting disaster.”

How to spot a counterfeit coin

The Mirror spoke to Change Checker about how to detect counterfeit coins.

  1. Watch out for a frosted design or very high relief found on some fakes
  2. Make sure the denomination, year of issue and portrait of the Queen are correctly placed. In the case of counterfeits, these can often be in the wrong position.
  3. A Google search will show you what the front and back of your coin should look like
  4. Examine the queen’s eye, hair, face and crown closely. Counterfeit coins are usually less detailed and more rounded.
  5. Check the size of the designer’s initials.
  6. Check the weight of the coin – all UK 50p coins should weigh 8.00g. If your 50p is a different weight then there is a chance it is fake.
  7. Consider the age of the coin. A coin issued in this case for the London 2012 Olympic Games has been in circulation for over 10 years. This means that it is very likely to have signs of wear. If it doesn’t, there’s a chance it’s a fake.

To confirm the legal tender status of a UK coin you can contact The Royal Mint who can confirm whether it is genuine or counterfeit.

Where counterfeit coins come from

Unfortunately, in the underworld of coin collecting, many counterfeit items are passed off as real.

A Change Checker spokesman said: “The production of counterfeit coins (and banknotes) is a serious criminal offense and a problem that has existed for centuries.

“The Royal Mint redesigned the £1 coin in 2017 for precisely this reason – replacing the round pounds with a far more secure (and more difficult to replicate) 12-sided £1 coin.”

Some of the fakes are clearly marked and sold as knockoffs, and some of them are then flipped and resold as the real deal.

But others may be made on purpose to mislead consumers.

Finding out more is difficult as coin experts are aware of how counterfeits are made in case this encourages more people to make counterfeit coins.

eBay has been asked for comment.

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Fry Electronics Team

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