AN investigation is underway after it emerged £86,000 of fake coins were used by drivers passing through the Mersey tunnels.

A spokesman for the tunnel operator Merseytravel said counterfeit £1 coins, which are the same size and weight as their genuine counterparts, were detected by sophisticated electronic equipment in the cash collection system.

It is believed drivers have been involved in the scam, affecting the Queensway and Kingsway tunnels, for the last six months.

Merseytravel bosses have vowed to catch those responsible for the fraud.

The public transport organisation's spokesman said the issue was part of a nationwide problem and is being investigated in a joint operation with Merseyside Police.

He said: "Millions of people use the tunnels every year and 99.9% of them do so in an appropriate way.

"Every time someone puts a fake £1 into the cash collection system at the Mersey Tunnel tolls, they are committing an act of fraud. But we are on to them.

"This is a massive nationwide problem, but something we picked up on locally and we are actively looking at ways we can tackle this."