A South African visitor to Austria’s Lake Faaker has been arrested for trying to use a fake 500-EUR note that had Chinese symbols on it.
The tourist who had travelled to the country to take part in the annual Golf GTI meeting that starts this weekend said he found the ‘funny money’ on the ground at a camping site next to Lake Faaker, a picture postcard Alpine area located in Carinthia in southern Austria.
He said he had not realised that it was not a genuine note, and as he could not see the owner and was confident that they would never be found, had decided to spend the unexpected windfall for himself.
The man, who was not named for legal reasons but who was 40 years old, went to a local shop and purchased goods worth 29.80 EUR but the blatantly fake note with Chinese writing was spotted by the checkout girl immediately, and confiscated.
A pal of the man using the fake note paid the bill for him, and they left the shop but were later tracked down in the camping area by police. The man admitted instantly what he had done and said he had found the money.
He and the friend had travelled from South Africa and had not seen a 500-EUR note before. He was released after being questioned, and paid a 100-EUR deposit against a possible fine that he might face when the investigation is finished.
Chinese speaking journalist John Feng from Asia Wire said that the note was one of those used in Chinese banks to train staff how to count quickly.
He said the writing translated as “Practice banknote. SAMPLE. For practice only, not for distribution.”
The practice of creating authentic-looking banknotes has been used in China since 1989 in order to train staff, and they are designed to look and feel like real banknotes despite the fact that they have Chinese writing on them to indicate that they are not real notes.
They are of such good quality that many have become collector’s items, although in some places like Hong Kong they are not allowed in private hands because of the risk that they may accidentally end up in circulation.