You name it, we can get it for you, promise forgery touts

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 September, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 September, 2002, 12:00am

Outside Shenzhen Book City on Shuchen Road - a favourite spot for Hong Kong visitors - a dozen shabbily dressed men tout for business.

'Identity cards, home return permits, driving licences, marriage certificates, divorce certificates . . . you name it, we get it for you,' shouts a man in his 20s who later gives his name as Li Ming.

Mr Li also claims he can get fake mainland identity cards, which he says are a hit with Hong Kong people. A top-quality fake mainland ID card sells for 160 yuan (HK$150), compared with 250 yuan for a basic Hong Kong ID card, even though it is more difficult to make. The sales pitch begins as soon as I step out of a taxi. Four men jump in front of me, but it is Mr Li who beats the others to the punch.

'Do you want a Hong Kong ID card? Mainland ID card? Birth certificate? Death certificate? Divorce certificate? Marriage certificate?' Before I have time to react, he has pressed his business card into my hands.

The pedestrian area before the gigantic Shenzhen Book City has been turned into a bazaar for forgers and all kinds of clients.

A man in his late 30s standing next to me is buying a Hong Kong ID card - his third purchase, he says. 'Don't worry, they are trustworthy. I can tell you they won't cheat you.'

After some haggling, Mr Li agrees to make me a fake Hong Kong ID card and a fake mainland ID card for a total of $400. He says it will take about three days.

They take me to a nearby shop to take my photograph. The owner of the shop has obviously done this many times and he chats to the forgers and offers them cigarettes. I pay a $100 deposit. Mr Li gives me his mobile phone number but refuses to write a receipt.

'Come on, I won't cheat you. We never cheat customers. Good business is built on a good reputation.' He smiles.

Two days later I go back to Shenzhen Book City. The men are still there busying themselves with clients. Mr Li recognises me immediately and gives me the Hong Kong ID card, but says I will have to wait another day for the mainland one.

'Do you want a driving licence as well? Or a fake degree? I can make a nice degree from Tsinghua University or Peking University for you. You get the money back in no time. The degree gets you a good job.'