Customs smashes local Internet website conducting transnational counterfeiting business (with photo)

2 May 2013

Hong Kong Customs recently raided a warehouse in Tsuen Wan and smashed a local Internet website for selling counterfeit products to overseas buyers in an operation, resulting in the arrest of a man and a woman, both aged 37, and the seizure of 181 boxes of suspected counterfeit toys worth about $20,000.

Group Head (Intellectual Property Investigation (Operations)), Mr Michael Kwan, said at a press conference held today (May 2) that Hong Kong Customs had earlier received a report alleging that a website was offering counterfeit toys. Upon in-depth investigation conducted by the Customs Anti-Internet Piracy Team, the server of the website was found to be in Hong Kong and the website was mainly for selling toys. Among the products, a type of toys had been confirmed by the relevant trademark owner as counterfeit.

The website, written in English, only focused on overseas customers. Payment could only be made through an online electronic payment gateway in US dollars. To further conceal its counterfeiting business, a small portion of genuine but less popular toys was also found on the website. The suspected counterfeit toys were marked "Knock Off" to cover up the poor quality.

After overseas customers had paid through the online electronic payment gateway for buying the goods, the man would send the goods through the postal channel. Investigation revealed that several hundred postal packets were posted monthly and the amount involved was around $200,000.

Since the website only focused on the overseas market, a Customs officer hence posed as an overseas customer and ordered a set of suspected counterfeit toys for US$55 from the website. The man was arrested when he was about to post the items at a post office. A batch of postal packets containing 15 boxes of suspected counterfeit toys was seized.

Customs officers later raided a warehouse and two residential flats in Tsuen Wan. Another 166 boxes of suspected counterfeit toys and two computers were seized. A woman was also arrested.

Mr Kwan emphasised it is not difficult for Customs officers to detect the sale of fake goods online, and they can trace the location of the computers and the identities of persons involved with the assistance of Internet service providers.

Under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, any person who imports, exports, sells or manufactures goods to which a forged trademark was applied commits a criminal offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

Anyone who comes across any suspected infringing activities can report to Customs by calling the Customs 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Thursday, May 2 2013

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