21 August 2019
The Wing Lung Bank and Wing Hang Bank branches are on the same block of Ngau Tau Kok Road. Photo: Google Maps
The Wing Lung Bank and Wing Hang Bank branches are on the same block of Ngau Tau Kok Road. Photo: Google Maps

Incorrectly written demand note foils apparent bank robbery bid

It might seem like a comedy of errors, but a mainland engineer’s actions could turn out to have serious consequences for him.

Yi Congbing, 48, is being tried in the High Court for the attempted robbery of three banks in Hong Kong a year ago, Apple Daily reported Wednesday.

He was arrested after allegedly trying to rob the branches of Wing Hang Bank and Wing Lung Bank on Ngau Tau Kok Road on April 1, 2014, and a branch of China CITIC Bank International in Sham Shui Po two days later.

Yi denied the charges Tuesday.

Wing Hang bank teller Cheung Wai-yin testified that Yi jumped the queue and handed her a folded piece of yellow paper on April 1 last year.

She did not open the note but threw it into the rubbish bin, thinking Yi wanted her to help him dispose of it.

Yi then left the bank, Cheung said.

Police later said the note bore the message: “This is a robbery. Give me HK$100,000. I have a bomb. I will blow this place up if I don’t get the money.”

On the same day, the court heard, Yi went into the nearby Wing Lung Bank.

Teller Ng Wai-man testified that he jumped the queue and handed her a note but walked off without saying a word.

Ng said since the Chinese characters for “robbery” were incorrectly written on the note, alongside a message demanding HK$100,000 in cash, she thought it might be an April Fools Day prank.

She handed the note to her supervisor, and they decided later to call the police.

Two days later, the court was told, Yi arrived at the CITIC Bank branch. He queued up this time.

Teller Chan Wai-ha testified that when Yi put forward a note asking for HK$10,000, he looked nervous and his facial muscles were twitching.

Chan said she pressed the alarm button discreetly and followed the bank’s guidelines in complying with robbers’ requests.

But when she was about to hand Yi the cash, Chan said, she saw him quickly leaving the bank.

Yi’s actions were captured by the bank’s CCTV system, and a piece of tissue paper he left behind was found to have his DNA on it, the court heard.

He was arrested April 4 in Sham Shui Po, carrying a lighter, alcohol and a note pad of the same size as the notes collected at the three banks.

Yi, who was an engineer in Hubei, told police he had only been bluffing and never took out any alcohol during the alleged robbery attempts.

Police said he told them he decided to come to Hong Kong and rob banks after running out of money, having incurred tens of thousands of Hong Kong dollars in credit card debt in the mainland.

The trial continues Wednesday.

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