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Thursday, Jun 30, 2022

Hong Kong customs seizes 15,000 fake N95 masks, arrests woman after raid

Hong Kong customs seizes 15,000 fake N95 masks, arrests woman after raid

Bogus 3M-brand N95 respirators, with an estimated value of about HK$30,000 (US$3,800), were confiscated from a temporary stall at a shopping centre in Ho Man Tin.
Hong Kong customs officers have seized more than 15,000 suspected fake surgical masks and arrested a woman after raiding a stall in a shopping centre.

The bogus 3M-brand N95 respirators, with an estimated value of about HK$30,000 (US$3,800), were confiscated from a temporary stall at a mall in Ho Man Tin, the Customs and Excise Department revealed on Tuesday.

With the city battling a worsening Omicron-fuelled coronavirus crisis, officials mounted the enforcement action on Monday after receiving reports of suspected counterfeit masks being offered for sale locally.

“After an investigation with the assistance of the trademark owner [on Monday], customs took enforcement action on the same day and raided a temporary stall,” customs said in a statement. “A batch of suspected counterfeit medical-grade face masks was seized.”

Officers arrested a 41-year-old woman, who was later released on bail pending further investigation. The department was investigating the source of the masks while samples would be sent to a laboratory for safety tests.

Under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO), those convicted of selling goods with a forged trademark face a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment and a HK$50,000 fine.

In January last year, customs made its biggest-ever seizure of counterfeit surgical masks, intercepting a HK$8.5 million consignment bound for Asian countries.

The haul of about 330,000 bogus 3M-brand N95 respirators was found at a logistics company in Kwai Chung. Customs officers said the counterfeit goods could easily be distinguished from genuine ones because of the blurred logo printed on them.

In a citywide operation targeting the sale of fake masks, the department conducted more than 44,000 inspections at retail spots between January 27, 2020 and January 31 this year.

Over the two years, officers arrested 90 people in connection with 39 cases. About 38.5 million surgical masks and other virus-protection products worth HK$144 million were seized.

Separately, customs officers on Tuesday arrested a partner in a figurine and toy shop for wrongly accepting payment, which is a crime under the TDO.

The department said it received several reports alleging that the man, 32, sold models and toys both online and in physical shops but failed to supply the goods within the specified date or a reasonable period after accepting payment from customers, and no refund was offered.

The suspect was released on bail pending further investigations.
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