Mainland internet users have accused people who used counterfeit money to pay for items at a charity bazaar in Guangzhou on Saturday of embarrassing all Chinese.
The bazaar was held by more than 30 foreign consulates to help raise money for disabled children in Guangdong, but the money received included 49 fake 100-yuan notes.
The fakes were discovered by bank clerks when the consulates tried to deposit some 330,000 yuan (HK$406,000) raised at the charity bazaar, according to a report in the Yangcheng Evening News yesterday.
The fake banknotes had the same serial number and it is believed those responsible took advantage of foreign staff who were not familiar with the Chinese currency.
Almost all the booths at the charity bazaar received fake banknotes.
The South Korean consulate's stall received eight of the fake notes, the newspaper said. The consulate did not response to inquiries yesterday.
All the products on sale at the charity bazaar, organised by Guangdong's foreign affairs office, were provided by the consulates for free and sold at a much cheaper price than they would be available in shops.
A reporter from Yangcheng Evening News said most of the foreign diplomats running the booths were unaware of the fraud being perpetrated.
One South American consulate did not even have cashiers, just a shoe box for customers to place money in.
The scandal was circulated widely on the internet over the weekend, with angry internet users accusing those responsible of having "embarrassed every Chinese person".
Guangdong produces 90 per cent of the mainland's counterfeit banknotes, and police in the province police have seized billions of yuan in fake money over the years.
Police say most of the counterfeit money is produced in Shantou, Shanwei and Jieyang , where fraud syndicates were closely linked and shared machines and supplies.