The District Court in Wan Chai on Hong Kong. Photo: Asia Times

A Filipino tourist denied a charge of using false instruments when he appeared in the District Court on Monday after he was arrested trying to cash US$50,000 worth of travelers’ checks at a currency exchange shop in Hong Kong.

Noel Rambuyon, 39, had been charged with one count of using false instruments, reported. The court heard he went to a Travelex Worldwide Money shop in Central in February last year and presented a bundle of Thomas Cook traveler’s checks to staff member Lily Wong.

Wong showed the bundle to sales consultant Lim Ming-yee and asked if the checks were genuine. Lim said they were counterfeit checks as she noticed the denominations, the printing and the paper used were of low quality and the numbers and watermarks were faded.

Lim told the court that Thomas Cook issued US$10, $20, $50, $100 and $500 traveler’s checks, but never $1,000 denominations, adding that she had undergone training on handling all kinds of documents. The defendant said in a statement that he found the checks among his father’s personal belongings after his father had died.

A police forensic examination found the traveler’s checks to be fakes.

The defense lawyer told the court that Thomas Cook, the London-based company that used to issue the instruments, had not confirmed whether the checks the defendant presented were fake or genuine.

Prosecutors told the Eastern Court in a hearing last year that Thomas Cook, which sold its foreign exchange operation to Travelex, said it had stopped printing the type of traveler’s checks that the defendant allegedly attempted to exchange since 2002.

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