Using counterfeit coins on Japanese vending machines to get free products


When I was a kid, I would take washers, Mexican Peso’s and all types of circular object and try to use them in vending machines. I never had any success. Today it would still be hard to fool the machines even with all the information I have on the internet and with all the fake coins out there.

However across the Pacific in Japan, it is really easy to fool these machines with fake coins or coin like items. With the release of the new $5 (500 yen) coin, counterfeiters are finding it easy to make and use on vending machines. This is nothing new of course, the Korean Won was used in vending machines when it was first introduced.

How does it work?

Because of the design of the new Yen coin, it is very easy to replicate in terms of weight, shape and design.
The counterfeit coin

counterfeit fake japanese 500 yen coin

As you can see this coin can only fool machines. No human is going to accept the fake coin.  What the real one looks like:

counterfeit fake japanese 500 yen coin

How does it fool vending machines in Japan?

Even though Japan is very high tech and produce very powerful vending machines, they don’t read the face of the coins like bill receptors do, making the machines a counterfeiter’s paradise.

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.

Counterfeit coins effect many people

Another concern is that customers will get a fake coin in change from the vending machine. What is one to do when given fake change from a vending machine. There is no one to report to nearby that can help you, and you can’t claim a return from the vending machines owner as you cannot prove you were given a fake coin.

Coins are always counterfeited when first released

When coins made out of gold and silver were first used in the US, people would take a small piece of the gold from the edges on the coin. You would not notice since it was so small, but if a person did that to coin after coin, they could amass a small fortune. This is why we have coins now that are grooved or reeded.


    • Thanks for leaving a comment. According to Google translation you are talking about how the South Korean 500 Won was used to mimic the 500 Japanese Yen coin.

      That is true. The Korean Won was used because it was very close to the exact weight of the Japanese 500 Yen coin, that and the Won is a very weak currency. Back when the Won was used it was worth about 1/10 of a Japanese coin, thus making it a perfect coin. This bug in the Japanese Yen was fixed, however if someone finds a way to do it again they can make a lot of money considering the exchange rate between the Won and the Yen.

      From Wikipedia:

      “The ₩500 coin was slightly heavier than the ¥500 coin, whilst having exactly the same diameter and metal alloy, meaning that counterfeiters would drill small holes in the coin to reduce its weight, and fool vending machines which relied on weight to identify coins.”


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