Police seized nearly HK$1.4 million (US$178,000) in fake cash and arrested three men in Kowloon on Monday night – the third such raid in the past two months.
A total of 1,514 bogus banknotes worth HK$1.37 million were discovered in a flat, while officers also bagged 64 mobile phones, four tablet computers, 11 handbags and 10 watches, all of which were suspected to be stolen items.
The number of bogus notes netted in the raid was almost as many as the total figure seized in similar cases in the first six months of the year. Police confiscated 1,618 fake notes with a face value of HK$467,530 between January and June, a 75 per cent rise compared with operations in the same period in 2017.
Officers detained the first suspect, a 47-year-old American, in Yin On Street, To Kwa Wan at about 10pm on Monday. He was carrying 240 fake HK$500 notes.
The suspect was taken to a nearby flat which was believed to have been used as a counterfeit workshop. Inside the flat, police found another 44 fake HK$500 notes and 1,230 bogus HK$1,000 notes along with three printers, a computer and other tools. Some of the notes were unfinished.
Police arrested two Pakistani men, aged 35 and 39, when they returned to the flat during the operation.
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The three men were carrying immigration forms, but one of the documents, carried by a Pakistani man, was found to be a fake.
“Initial information shows [the suspects] have stayed in Hong Kong for many years,” a police source said. “We are checking with the Immigration Department to find out their backgrounds and whether they are asylum seekers.”
Describing the quality of the counterfeit banknotes as “poor”, Senior Inspector Lau Siu-lung of Kowloon West regional intelligence unit said: “The seized notes do not have watermarks or other security features.”
He said the operation was still under way and further arrests were possible.
Officers believe the counterfeiting gang had been in operation for several months and some fake notes could have entered circulation.
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Police noticed that fake notes were being used to buy things at convenience stores and pay taxi fares in the Kowloon West region. Officers are investigating whether the gang was linked to those cases.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the three suspects were still being held for questioning and had not been charged.
In Hong Kong, making counterfeit banknotes carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail.
Monday’s raid was the third of its kind by police in the city in less than two months.
On July 24, an Indian asylum seeker and his British girlfriend were arrested when police seized HK$9,100 in fake cash during a predawn raid on a hotel room in To Kwa Wan.
On June 12, police arrested an Indian asylum seeker and his Russian girlfriend and seized HK$4,100 in counterfeit cash at a subdivided flat in Hung Hom.
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