THE Phantom Backpacker has been tripped up twice - both times by retired Hongkong finance inspectors. Macau-based Ted Freer, a former tax assessor for the Hongkong Government, met the man who cheats money out of travellers at Kai Tak. The Phantom spouted his usual tale of woe, about desperately needing money for the departure tax. ''Well, when's your flight?'' asked Ted. The Phantom looked at the board and chose a flight which did not leave for four hours. Bad choice. ''Where's your luggage?'' asked the tax man. ''Er. Waiting at the check-in.'' ''Where's your ticket?'' ''Also at check-in.'' Ted pointed out that check-in desks usually don't open until two hours before a flight. The Phantom knew he had been rumbled. He realised the tax-man was looking about for a security guard. He fled. The whole incident was repeated at a later date when the Phantom tried and failed to con Ron Blanche, an ex-government auditor now living in Discovery Bay. Ted commented: ''We're used to asking questions before handing out money.'' We never thought we'd say this, but three cheers for tax and audit inspectors. Falling flat VIGERS Asia is sending out letters urging people to buy condos in the Imperial Grand, Richmond, Vancouver. ''Created for the indiscriminating buyer,'' it says. You'd think they would be a bit more complimentary about their own apartments, wouldn't you? Liberal incentive REGGIE Bosman of Stanley was swanning around on the Peak yesterday when he overheard some members of the old guard talking about a recruitment scheme for the new pro-business Liberal Party. It went something like this: ''Induce one person to join and you get $1,000. ''Induce two people to join and you're allowed to leave the party yourself. ''Get THREE ingenues to sign up and you get a handsome scroll certifying that you yourself have never been a member.'' Danish blue IN Hongkong, the television authorities are often seen as being immature about you know, thingy, wotsit, ''the other'', nudge-nudge, or to be blunt, S.E.X. But things are changing. The Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority has submitted a paper to legislators which touches on this difficult subject, although without actually mentioning the word. ''Subject to the approval of the Broadcasting Authority, the licensee may introduce channels showing material dealing with the realities of the adult world (ie. adult channels),'' it says. Meanwhile, the entertainment authorities in Denmark have just licensed a museum of smut. The Danish Tourist Board sent out a press release about The Erotic Museum in Copenhagen. The museum has four floors, each ruder than the one below. The top floor has12 video monitors showing blue movies from the 1920s to the present day. Compare this with Hongkong, where in-house TV censors once tried to snip the line ''You're out of your Vulcan mind'' out of one of the Star Trek movies because they said it had a swear word in it. Smoke signals PEOPLE in China don't have the same horror of smoking as people in Hongkong. When the SAS Royal Hotel was opened in Beijing, staff chose English names for themselves, we heard from a reader in Beijing. As a result, there is a young man named Marlboro there. ''He even wanted to print it on a name label in the same way that it is on the cigarette firm's trade mark,'' said our source. There is also a Camel at the hotel. Since one of the most popular Chinese family names is Lo, it would be easy for a Beijing smoker to call himself Lo Tar. Grey elegy MAYBE we are wrong to mock people in the business community who fancy themselves as poets. A new book has been published in America called The Literature of Work: Short Stories, Essays and Poems by Men and Women of Business (University of Phoenix Press). Critics reckon bits of it are surprisingly good. This is from a poem called Oasis by Ron Czerwien, a marketing manager for Kemper Insurance: In grey-toned suits At their separate tables One sits hunched Turning the local paper Inside out. One with dark eyes Stares into the dark outside. One peels open A spreadsheet And eats. Brain drain FAX received from Greg Young of EDS, Citibank Plaza. ''Following on your Australian theme, the Late Sir Robert Muldoon, during his time as Prime Minister of New Zealand, once commented to the international press that every time someone emigrated from New Zealand to Australia, the IQs of both countries wentup.'' You have to think about that one.