Gala Gatecrashers: 2 men convicted for sneaking into HK Film Awards on dodgy passes

The red carpet outside of Sunday’s Hong Kong Film Awards. Photo via Facebook/HKFA.
The red carpet outside of Sunday’s Hong Kong Film Awards. Photo via Facebook/HKFA.

Showbiz is full of phonies, so it’s almost fitting that two men were caught trying to get backstage at the at last weekend’s Hong Kong Film Awards by using stolen and forged staff passes, and have since been found guilty of fraud.

Sunday’s star-studded event, which (also fittingly) saw the counterfeiter caper Project Gutenberg nab seven awards, was attended by some of the best-known names in the Hong Kong entertainment industry, from teen idol-turned-serious actress Charlene Choi, to veteran honoree Anthony Wong, who bagged another best actor award for his role in Still Human.

The two nobodies who went to criminal lengths to rub shoulders with the the glitterati were identified as Hu Fangxu, 36, and Tao Wenbao, 29. Hu pleaded guilty to one count of fraud, while Tao admitted to using a false instrument during their appearance at Kowloon City Magistrates’ Court yesterday, Ming Pao reports.

Hu hails from the city of Shenyang, in Liaoning province in northeast China, where he works for the city’s propaganda and media department, while Tao is a photographer from Shenzhen. Both men came into Hong Kong using two-way entry permits.

The court heard that on Sunday, hours before the award ceremony, organizers were told that a staff pass belonging a female Project Gutenberg representative named Charlie Choy was missing from a storage room at the Cultural Centre.

At about 7pm as celebrities started filing in, police at the venue noticed Hu wearing Choy’s staff pass, which included Choy’s photo. When asked by police where he got the pass, Hu claimed to have bought it outside the venue for 500RMB (US$75), that he didn’t know who he got it from, and that he just wanted to see the stars and take photos.

At around the same time, award ceremony staff spotted Tao wearing a perfect forgery of a staff pass — perfect, that is, except for a difference in font. Under questioning, Tao said he had also purchased the pass from an unknown person outside the venue.

On.cc reports that, in mitigation, their defense attorney said that both men were just tourists who wanted to get a little closer to the celebrities. He added that the crimes were not premeditated, as there were allegedly people at the scene selling fake and stolen passes.

Whether that was actually the case or not remains unclear, but one person who definitely wasn’t convinced was Principal Magistrate Bernadette Woo Huey-fang, who asked: “Why would someone out of nowhere be selling staff passes outside the venue? How would that person know that Hu wanted to go into the venue? And it was a woman’s staff pass as well — that’s really bold!”

Even if the story of the mystery pass seller were true, Woo said, Hu was still willing to buy the ill-begotten pass, which was no different that encouraging others to steal. Woo also disputed the lawyer’s suggestion that the crimes were not premeditated, saying that Tao clearly forged his own access card, which even had his own photo on it.

The crimes of fraud and possession of false instruments both carry maximum jail sentences of 14 years under the Theft and Crimes ordinances.

Both men have been remanded in custody, and sentencing will take place on May 6 pending a background report on both men.

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CITY: HONG KONGCATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: CRIME

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