Taxi drivers are on the alert as more customers present fake HK$500 notes, especially for short rides, Headline Daily reported Tuesday.
On Monday, a taxi driver was handed a fake HK$500 bill by one of four Southeast Asian passengers, believed to be in their 30s, for a ride from Queen Mary Hospital to Admiralty costing HK$67.
The driver was not aware that the note was a fake one and gave change of HK$433.
He later reported the incident to police after realiziing the texture of the bill differed from that of genuine ones.
Police are examining the note and have yet to arrest any suspects.
To Sun-tong, director of the taxi drivers’ subdivision of the Motor Transport Workers General Union, said there have been regular reports from drivers of fake bills, mostly HK$500 and HK$100 ones.
He said most of these fake notes were received when passengers asked the driver to let them off at a location with busy traffic and rushed the driver for change.
Others would pretend to offer an advantage to the driver by offering to round up the taxi fare, causing some drivers to let down their guard and accept the fake note.
Another common trick would be for several passengers offering to pay the fare at the same time, distracting the driver.
To said that, as a precautionary measure, many drivers will now avoid accepting HK$500 notes.
He said passengers should tell the driver if they do not have notes of a smaller denomination before hopping in.
Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said using fake notes is a serious crime and could result in a prison term upon conviction.
Police said they collected nearly 2,200 fake notes last year. Many of them were HK$1,000 bills issued by HSBC and Bank of China in 2003.
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