Mind your change: 10-pataca swindlers are back!

July 16, 2015 13:51
Spot the difference: 10-pataca notes and HK$100 bills are different in design and size, but they have the same color. Photo: Internet

The pataca bandits appear to be back in business.

An online message that has gone viral on social media warns Hong Kong consumers to watch out for 10-pataca banknotes being passed off by some unscrupulous shopkeepers as HK$100 notes.

Similar cases were reported in 2013 and 2014.

According to the message, one buyer gave a HK$500 note to a shopkeeper for goods worth less than HK$100, only to find out later that a 10-pataca note was included in the change, Sky Post reported Thursday. 

Ten patacas is worth about HK$10 or US$1.25, while HK$100 is equivalent to US$12.9.

A 10-pataca note issued by the Bank of China in Macau in 2008 is a bit smaller, but has the same red color as a HK$100 bill. As such, it can easily be mistaken for a HK$100 bill when mixed with Hong Kong notes.

According to Bank of China (Hong Kong), a 10-pataca note is 138 millimeters by 69 mm in size, while a HK$100 bill is 154 mm x 77 mm. The two bear different designs.

Back in 2013, Apple Daily reported that swindlers tried to use 10-pataca notes as HK$100 bills for the items they bought.

When caught, they would simply apologize for the "mistake" and get away with it.

Albert Luk Wai-hung, a well-known barrister, said those who intentionally pass off a 10-pataca note as a HK$100 bill could face up to 10 years in jail for the offense of obtaining property by deception.

Chan Yung-chin, director of Mega supermarket chain, said he had heard about the scheme and alerted his staff, even though no such case has ever happened in his stores.

A spokesman for the Hong Kong Monetary Authority said it has not received any query from citizens about the mix-up over the last three years. It said the two notes can be easily differentiated if people pay more attention.

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