City tackles rising tide of fake money

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 12:00am

Counterfeit cash and unrealistic expectations of economic reform are causing growing problems for Shanghai police.

A spokeswoman for the city's Public Security Bureau, Fang Dinghua, said the rapid development of the economy, which had allowed a small sector of the population to become wealthy, generated rising expectations.

When those hopes came to nothing some people would resort to any means to prosper, including criminal means such as forging banknotes.

'Counterfeit notes are a rising problem not just in Shanghai, but across China,' Ms Fang said.

An official at the Baoshan District security bureau in Shanghai cited the case of a couple with no criminal record who recently bought fake banknotes and were arrested.

He said the couple, identified only as Mr Tian and his wife, Ms Yang, met a man last month who offered to sell them 400,000 yuan (HK$376,000) in near-perfect counterfeit Chinese currency and gave them a 'sample' 100 yuan note that was in fact a real bank note.

Impressed with the ease with which they could pass the bill, even at a bank, the couple 'borrowed 90,000 yuan from family and friends and set up a meeting with the seller in Anhui', the officer said.

The couple hired a taxi to go to the rendezvous point, handed over the 90,000 yuan, obtained a locked black suitcase filled with the counterfeit notes and returned to Shanghai.

The officer said that when they finally managed to open the case in Shanghai 'it was filled with a top layer of forgeries over piles of white paper cut into currency-sized bills'.

The taxi driver called the police and Tian and Yang were arrested.

'They are now in custody, and are very likely to be sent to jail for involvement in the circulation of counterfeit bills,' the officer said.

Ms Fang said the mainland would soon see a crackdown on counterfeit currency. She said counterfeit money was rampant in Shanghai and authorities would soon meet to finalise plans to fight the problem.