COUNTERFEIT bank notes are potentially circulating in the Macleay Valley after two fake $50 notes were allegedly dispensed by the Westpac ATM in South West Rocks last week.
The machine was shut down on Friday and restocked with fresh currency.
Westpac is now conducting an inquiry into how the notes made their way into the ATM money supply.
SWR resident Dawn McGinley said she withdrew the notes from the machine in Prince of Wales Ave last Thursday as part of her rent payment.
“I am a BCU customer but I used the Westpac ATM, then I went to the estate agent's to pay my rent and the girl there said she couldn’t accept two of the notes,” Ms McGinley said.
“I was a bit shocked and I didn’t know quite what to do so I went to the National Australia Bank down the street to ask their advice.
“They said the notes were obviously counterfeit and they could not accept them.
“The manager was very good and sat me down and gave me a cup of tea and explained what I had to do even though I was not a customer of theirs.
“I then went home and rang Westpac, and the person I spoke to told me it was not their problem as the ATMs that are not part of a branch are serviced and filled by Chubb Security.
“I then contacted BCU who initially told me that I should contact Westpac.
“Finally I contacted the Kempsey Police who were fantastic.”
Ms McGinley said it was the lack of support and the unwillingness of any institution to take responsibility that was most frustrating.
“I was lucky in as much as I had money to pay my rent,” she said.
“But other people are not so lucky, when you are a pensioner like me you view money as either food or energy and if you are short even $50 in a week it is a real problem.”
A spokesperson for Westpac said yesterday the bank was confident there were no more counterfeit notes in the machine before it was refilled.
Ms McGinley had her counterfeit notes exchanged for legal currency at the BCU office in Port Macquarie yesterday morning.
The notes will be sent to the Reserve Bank of Australia forensic unit in Melbourne for examination and entry into the bank’s counterfeit note database.