Concerns about the circulation of counterfeit HK$1,000 banknotes heightened last night after it was reported that Macau police had seized fake notes bearing the HSBC name in casinos.
All previous fakes discovered were copies of notes issued by the Bank of China (BOC), prompting fears the scale of the problem might be bigger than initially thought. Reports from the former Portuguese enclave said police seized 28 fake HK$1,000 notes in casinos - 13 of them HSBC copies and the rest BOC ones. The issue date on the HSBC fakes was 2008.
Earlier this week Macau police said they had seized 63 counterfeit BOC notes. Yesterday's seizure takes the total to 91.
Police did not rule out the possibility that the two batches of fakes were made by the same syndicate. Hong Kong police would follow up on the issue, a spokesman said.
In Hong Kong yesterday, banks, restaurants and shops were refusing a type of HK$1,000 banknote after police seized five fake notes of the same denomination from two local banks this week. The notes were copies of those issued by BOC in 2003, which feature the BOC Tower on the front and the Convention and Exhibition Centre on the back. Several banks, including HSBC and Hang Seng Bank, put up notices saying this type of note would not be accepted by cash deposit machines before they are upgraded to enable counterfeit identification. Standard Chartered Bank "may not" accept the notes, a notice on its automated teller machines said.
Tsui Wah restaurant and LH Group, which operates The Banqueting House among others, do not accept the notes in question. But staff at shops in Causeway Bay, including jewellers Chow Tai Fook and Chow Sang Sang, said they had not received specific instructions about the notes and were still accepting them. Tiffany & Co has a machine in each of its shops to identify fake notes while most Burberry customers pay by card. Chow Sang Sang is still accepting the 2003 BOC notes as their staff have been trained to spot fakes.
Many exhibitors at the Hong Kong Brands and Products Expo - which runs until January 6 in Victoria Park - are shunning the notes as they do not have counterfeit detector machines. Connie Lam, of electronic goods seller San Dynamic, said it would not accept the BOC 2003 notes.
Chinese medicine and dried seafood seller Tung Fong Hung has told its staff not to accept HK$1,000 notes if possible. Chief operating officer Oli Man Pui-shan said BOC 2003 HK$1,000 notes would not be accepted, but those issued by HSBC or Standard Chartered Bank would be verified using detector machines.
The Commercial Crime Bureau has issued guidelines for identifying the fake notes, whose details and colours vary slightly from the originals.
HOW TO SPOT A FAKE BOC NOTE
The embossing on the fake Bank of China HK$1,000 notes is less pronounced to the touch.
The fake watermark is less distinct.
The HK$1,000 numeral should turn gold and green at different angles, but goes from dull golden brown to grey-green on the fake.
The fake dotted holographic security thread is too neat and lacks the ragged edges on the genuine.
Under UV light, the barcode should turn a vivid yellow but on the fake it turns pale yellow.