A sixfold surge in seizures of bogus HK$100 banknotes was recorded last year, according to police figures, prompting the force to warn the public to watch out for fakes in the run-up to Lunar New Year.
Counterfeiters usually targeted shops, stalls at wet markets, convenience stores and supermarkets in their efforts to slip the notes into circulation, officers said, since shop owners and employees were often too busy to double-check money.
Some Hong Kong residents had even seen their notes replaced by counterfeits while shopping on the mainland.
"Victims present a HK$100 note to make a purchase. Vendors say it is a fake note and hand back the bill," a police source said. "But in fact, vendors have switched the genuine note with a fake one."