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Sunday, Apr 11, 2021

Customs arrests 22 for selling fake goods

Customs officers have seized about 2,700 counterfeit items with an estimated value of HK$1.8 million from online purchasing agents and live broadcasters between November and February.
During their operation, officers posed as buyers and smashed 17 online scams that sold counterfeit goods, arresting 22 sellers aged 20 to 69.

"These online sellers claimed to be able to contact foreign manufacturers or large suppliers directly," said Henry Wong Chi-yin, commander of the intellectual property transnational unit. "They said they had a purchasing team buying goods overseas."

He added that some vendors displayed the brands' official advertisements or claimed that the goods were limited editions or promotional items in attempts to trick the buyers into believing the goods were genuine.

Some sellers also pushed their counterfeit goods by selling at 60 to 70 percent discounted prices on genuine items, while others promoted their counterfeit goods through social media live broadcasts.

"They sold counterfeit goods in a live broadcast by different methods, including limited-time broadcasts and online bidding," he said. "It aimed to attract consumers to buy goods simultaneously."

Buyers could comment and purchase goods immediately, he added, and there were follow-ups with the seller in private messages.

Sellers would also broadcast live at night for about two to three hours, Wong said, but a few preferred live broadcasts from midnight for five to six hours to try to avoid detection by custom officers.

Some sellers asked buyers to pay for the goods at the outset of a transaction and then rejected refunds, which forced buyers to accept delivery.

They also used the pandemic as an excuse to not deliver the goods in person.

"Customers only realized they were counterfeits after being forced to accept delivery," Wong said.

The 2,700 seized items included clothes, handbags, shoes, accessories and home appliances.

The 22 arrested were 16 females and six males aged from 20 and 69. They were released on bail pending investigations.

Tse Kwok-keung, head of the intellectual property investigation bureau, said some sellers also reopened social media accounts after being accused of selling counterfeit goods.

"They use different identities to sell products on different platforms," Tse said, though he explained officers could still track these sellers.

Tse advised people to shop online carefully. He said buyers should check the payment methods, refund mechanisms and reputations of stores as well as consider whether a discounted price is reasonable.

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