The Bank of China confirmed on Monday that fraudulent HK$50 banknotes are circulating in the market and that it has reported the matter to the Commercial Crime Bureau. The fake banknotes are reported to be “crudely printed” with identical serial numbers, “CN485659.”

The public was made aware of the counterfeit notes when business owners posted images of banknotes with identical serial numbers on Facebook and WhatsApp, urging the public to beware of HK$50 notes with a serial number that ended with “659.”

A notice calling for people to beware of counterfeit HK$50 banknote with image comparison on the left. Photo: Screenshot from Facebook.

Police reported that 1,022 counterfeit HK$50 banknotes had been discovered between 2013 and 2015, which were disguised as notes issued by the Bank of China in 2003. In addition, 22 more notes of the same nature were discovered in the first three months of 2016.

Some anti-counterfeiting features on genuine banknotes issued by Bank of China include readable watermarks and barcodes when placed under ultraviolet light, the golden and green hue of the “50” sign when tilted and a security thread that carries distinct images on it.

Based on the images of the forged banknotes, they could be identified through the easily-faded ink and a security thread that carries no distinct image.

“The groups that manufacture counterfeit money often give you a stack of cash containing only a few fake banknotes, it is easy to overlook them when the night is dark,” said Gwan Woh-wah, chairman of the Urban Taxi Driver Association Joint Committee.

Police reported that the majority of fraudulent banknotes in Hong Kong were manufactured outside of the region; only few were produced within the city’s borders. Criminals tend to distribute the counterfeit cash at street markets, convenience stores or supermarkets.

Gene Lin

Gene Lin is a Journalism and Computer Science student at The University of Hong Kong. He worked as a reporter for the 'LIVE: Verified Updates' during the Occupy Central protests. He is also an editor at HKU's first English-language student paper, The Lion Post.