Police in Laos this week arrested three Chinese nationals for trying to buy holiday clothing with counterfeit bills that a shopkeeper had noticed were marked by smeared ink, causing her to contact authorities, sources in Laos said.
The suspects, two men and a woman, had recently arrived in Laos from southern China’s Yunnan province and are being questioned but have not yet been formally charged, a police officer in Luang Prabang city told RFA’s Lao Service on Wednesday.
“We’re investigating and interrogating them because they may have more accomplices,” the officer said, adding that the suspects have only been accused but not charged, and that authorities will contact the Chinese embassy in Laos once their investigation is complete.
“Using fake money is a serious crime,” the officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Lao citizens and especially shopkeepers must be careful before accepting large bills, including bills in U.S. and Thai currency, and check closely to see if the money they are handed is real or fake, the officer said.
'The ink came off'
Also speaking to RFA, an immigration officer in the Luang Prabang provincial police department confirmed the arrests, saying the Chinese taken into custody on April 14 had tried to pass “fake money” including 100,000 kip (U.S. $12) and 50,000 kip (U.S. $6) banknotes.
“When put in contact with water, the bills smeared, the ink came off, and the line on the notes broke,” the officer said, also speaking on condition he not be named.
Alerted by a shopkeeper from whom the Chinese had attempted to buy $200 worth of Lao New Year’s clothing, police then confiscated the counterfeit bills and later, while questioning the three, found more fake bills of Lao currency in large denominations totaling nearly a thousand dollars, the officer said.
This week’s arrests mark the latest discovery by police of counterfeit currency in Laos, with fake 100,000 kip banknotes found circulating several years ago in the capital Vientiane and in many of the country’s provinces, including Houaphanh and Xayaburi.
Meanwhile, moves in Laos to promote Chinese tourism in the coming year will benefit mainly Chinese businesses already established in the impoverished Southeast Asian country, with ordinary Lao citizens less likely to cash in, Lao sources told RFA in earlier reports.
Lao authorities in January deported 104 Chinese nationals accused of cheating Lao citizens in online fraud schemes back to China, sources said.
Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Max Avary. Written in English by Richard Finney.