Twofold rise in seized HK$1,000 notes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 March, 2007, 12:00am

Police believe high-quality fakes - like the 300 seized on Thursday - come from outside the city

The number of counterfeit HK$1,000 banknotes seized by police this year has doubled to 710, two days after officers issued a warning about the fakes.

Police said on Thursday they had seized about 300 bogus HK$1,000 bills, and described them as the highest-quality counterfeits the force has ever seized.

Speaking after a passing-out parade, Police Commissioner Tang King-shing said he was 'very concerned' about the influx of the high-quality notes.

He added that initial investigations showed they had originated outside Hong Kong.

'We have discovered about 700 counterfeit HK$1,000 banknotes,' he said. 'Some suspects have been arrested and we are working closely with Macau and mainland officials in the probe. We hope that we can solve the problem as soon as possible.'

Banks handed over most of the seized notes to police last week and 710 had been recovered, a police spokesman said.

Yesterday, five more people believed to be linked to fakes were arrested, bringing the number arrested to 12.

The individuals were from Hong Kong, the mainland and Vietnam. All were detained for questioning. No charges have been laid.

The commissioner said the public should be careful when accepting HK$1,000 notes. A police hotline set up to take reports and complaints had received 13 calls by yesterday, a police spokesman said. Most callers asked how to identify the fake notes.

The fake HSBC notes are of higher quality than those found previously, police said. They cannot be detected by ultraviolet light and contain metal threads, holographic images and watermarks, making them more difficult to identify, even for banks.

The HK$1,000 bills have a holographic window thread, which on genuine notes has clear text and holographic images showing 'HK1000' and a bauhinia flower pattern. On fake bills, the thread does not shimmer as much and the text is unclear.

Other ways of spotting the counterfeits are to check the silver metallic ink on the front circular pattern, which is bright and shiny on the real article but dull on the counterfeit bills. Also, when examined horizontally, the number '1000' can be made out on the lower right side of the real notes, but the figure is missing or barely discernible in the fake ones.

Last Sunday, police raided a Tai Po flat and found 58 fake HK$1,000 notes, but those were of lower quality than the hundreds of others discovered throughout the week.

Seizures of counterfeit HK$1,000 bills have risen sharply in recent years, with 1,416 discovered by police last year, compared with 403 in 2005 and 281 in 2004.

Police urge the public to inform them of suspicious notes on the hotline number 2860 5012.