Fake yuan warning as Christmas approaches
A noticeable increase in the seizure of counterfeit mainland banknotes in Hong Kong this year has prompted police to warn the public to be aware of fakes in the lead-up to Christmas.
Latest figures show the number of bogus yuan notes in different denominations increased by 25 per cent to 7,406 in the first 10 months of this year, compared with 5,930 in all of last year. There were 5,101 fake notes discovered in 2005.
Police said most of the forgeries were 100 yuan bills. In the first 10 months, 5,789 forged 100 yuan notes were seized, 22 per cent more than the 4,739 discovered in the whole of last year.
The number of counterfeit 20 yuan notes discovered increased sharply to 433 in the first 10 months of this year compared to 93 in the whole of last year. There were 930 fake 50 yuan bills and 251 bogus 10 yuan notes in the same period.
Police said most of the counterfeit banknotes were detected when deposited in banks.
'As the volume of renminbi banknotes flowing into the Hong Kong banking system has immensely increased, it is not surprising to find that the number of counterfeit renminbi has surged,' a police spokesman said.
'Officers of the Commercial Crime Bureau will maintain their efforts in combating counterfeit banknote activities in Hong Kong.'
He added the bureau regularly met their mainland and overseas counterparts to exchange intelligence on the currency counterfeiting problem.
The yuan has become more prevalent in Hong Kong as more department stores and shops accept the currency.
According to police, the forgeries incorporated security features such as watermarks and security threads.
Chief Inspector Yu Shi-cheung, who has been the police counterfeit expert for more than 20 years, said the quality of bogus mainland banknotes was considered to be 'average' and could be easily detected by examining the security features.
'Unlike genuine notes, the fakes are made by offset printing so that bogus bills do not have an embossed effect,' he said.
'The watermark in forged notes is unclear and blurred but the watermark in genuine notes is clear and sharp.'
But Mr Yu said the public and retailers should be aware of fakes.
'If you receive a note, you should spend a little time to have a look at it and check its security features,' he said.
Although the number of seized bogus Hong Kong banknotes in different denominations dropped to 4,500 in the first 10 months of this year from 6,681 for all of last year, there has been a sharp increase in fake HK$1,000 notes seized this year.
Figures show there were 2,717 fake HK$1,000 notes seized, 92 per cent more than the 1,416 found in the whole of last year.
The number of bogus HK$1,000 notes seized in a March raid which saw such seizures leap 92 per cent from the previous year: 1,721