Cheating cabbie fined for trying to use obsolete Peruvian notes

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 March, 2013, 4:07am

A taxi driver who tried to deceive passengers with Peruvian banknotes that were no longer in circulation tarnished Hong Kong's reputation as a tourist paradise and shamed law-abiding cabbies, a deputy magistrate said.

Liu Ka-ho, 30, was fined HK$3,700 and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service for the six charges that he had pleaded guilty to.

His taxi driver's licence was suspended for four months.

Liu was arrested in a police undercover operation in November. He was charged with failing to display the taximeter, charging hiring fares that exceeded the prescribed scale of fares, and attempted theft, among others.

At his sentencing in Kowloon City Court yesterday, Liu drew a rebuke from Deputy Magistrate Lee Siu-ho.

"Your crimes have brought shame on your fellow drivers and affected Hong Kong's image as a tourist attraction," Lee said.

Liu's crimes were more serious than similar incidents in which locals fell prey, as he had targeted tourists who would have had little knowledge about the city, Lee said. He also blasted Liu for failing to deliver professional services to his passengers.

In mitigation, Liu said he was trying to make a quick buck to repay his father's debts and to give money to his fiancée.

On November 30, Liu picked up a passenger - who turned out to be a policeman passing off as a mainland visitor - at the junction of Canton and Peking roads in Tsim Sha Tsui.

When the passenger said he was headed for the airport, Liu asked for HK$600 without putting the flag down. The police later conducted a test and found the route cost HK$223.50.

At the airport, the passenger paid with two HK$500 banknotes. Liu swapped one of the bills with an obsolete Peruvian note and asked for HK$100 more. Liu finally gave HK$400 in change when the passenger said he did not have any HK$100 notes. The officer arrested Liu and found two more obsolete Peruvian bills.