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Holders should not pay for fake money

[ 2009-01-19 10:51]     字号 [] [] []  
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Holders should not pay for fake money

Extremely "real looking" fake bank notes have appeared in several provinces and cities across the country causing panic among the public because there were reports that even bill scanners failed to detect them.

To stop the panic, bank authorities have issued statements to assure the public that there was no possibility of fake money getting through the banks' scanners. The statements, however, sound too feeble to assuage the public's fear.

The assurance doesn't seem convincing enough because there had been reports of customers getting fake money from ATMs. The latest case occured only a few days ago, when a man surnamed Qian withdrew 1,000 yuan ($147) from an ATM at a bank in Mianyang, Sichuan province, but later found nine of the 10 100-yuan notes to be counterfeit. As he had not asked for an invoice from the automatic teller machine, the man could not prove the source of the money and had to bear the loss.

This is really scary, for customers would feel unsafe when even banks' ATMs spew out fake money. What is more frustrating is that one can hardly prove it. Last year, a man surnamed Li allegedly received 500 yuan in fake notes from an ATM in Dongguan, Guangdong province. After a shop refused to take the money, Li asked the bank to pay him for the loss but the bank turned down the request, saying that "it is impossible for such a thing to happen". The man smashed the machine in fury but ended up being arrested by police.

There have been other such cases across the country but in all of them the customers have borne the losses.

Holders should not pay for fake money

Rural migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to the fake money tragedy. On December 23 last year, Sun Yun and Wu Li, a couple from Zhongxian, Chongqing, received 2,400 yuan ($353) from their boss as part of their yearly salary. When they began to spend the money, they found that 19 of the 24 100-yuan bills were fake. The boss said the money was withdrawn from a local bank.

The couple were honest country folks. They said they would not spend the fake money because it is illegal; but they could not bear the pain of handing over the money to the bank. "We earned it at the cost of our blood and sweat," they said tearfully, according to media reports.

State regulation rules that fake money, when found, should be confiscated. In other words, the loss is borne by whoever holds it. The regulation is based on the theory that the act of keeping a counterfeit bank note is illegal. In reality, however, most holders of fake money obtain it without knowing it. The fact leaves the regulation questionable.

Although a person who accidentally receives a fake note is blamed for not being careful enough to detect it, he/she should not be held 100 percent responsible for the mistake. Besides the recognition of the phony notes, the problem also involves their making and trafficking, and they have become more and more difficult to detect thanks to the advancing of the techniques of forging them. These faults should not be blamed on common people who involuntarily become holders of fake money. Instead, it is the State's responsibility to stop, and crack down on the making and trafficking of fake money.

Therefore, the State should share the loss by compensating the holder of a counterfeit bank note somewhat when confiscating it. Otherwise, one cannot rule out the possibility that people try to spend the fake money given the fact that it has become more and more difficult to distinguish it from true money. In that case, it is the national economy that will suffer the most.

E-mail: liushinan@hotmail.com

About the author:

刘式南 高级编辑。1968年毕业于武汉华中师范学院(现华中师范大学)英文系。1982年毕业于北京体育学院(现北京体育大学)研究生院体育情报专业。1982年进入中国日报社,先后担任体育记者、时政记者、国际新闻编辑、要闻版责任编辑、发稿部主任、《上海英文星报》总编辑、《中国商业周刊》总编辑等职。现任《中国日报》总编辑助理及专栏作家。1997年获国务院“特殊贡献专家政府津贴”。2000年被中华全国新闻工作者协会授予“全国百佳新闻工作者”称号。2006年获中国新闻奖二等奖(编辑)。