Police have smashed a counterfeiting ring that specialized in making fake banknotes based on genuine bills issued by HSBC in 2010.
In a raid on a unit of a commercial building in Aberdeen on Sunday morning, officers from the Commercial Crime Bureau (CCB) seized more than 1,000 counterfeit banknotes with face values of HK$500 and HK$100, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Including five more counterfeit HK$500 bills found in the flat of the suspected mastermind of the ring, the seized fake banknotes had a total face value of HK$221,600.
The crackdown came after police received 34 reports of shopkeepers receiving fake HK$500 and HK$100 bills since the middle of March.
After an in-depth investigation, police confirmed a ring was manufacturing the counterfeit banknotes at the Aberdeen unit and launched an operation on Monday.
Four people aged 24 to 43, including a 32-year-old man suspected to be the ringleader, were arrested during the operation.
Police said the mastermind was believed to have recruited the three other suspects to use the fake money in restaurants and stores in Sham Shui Po.
All of them were arrested on charges of making counterfeiting banknotes, passing counterfeit banknotes and conspiracy to pass counterfeit banknotes, among others.
Besides the fake banknotes, officers also seized materials on how to make counterfeit money and equipment including color laser printers, heat stamping machines, fluorescent chemicals, and a stamp for bills.
According to the police, the ring had also tried to fake HK$1,000 bills but failed in their attempts.
An acting chief inspector of the CCB said he believes most people would be able to identify the counterfeit notes made by the ring because of their poor quality and security features, RTHK reported.
Nearly 3,000 counterfeit bills were seized in 2018 and more than 280 in the first quarter of this year, police data showed.
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