Customs smashes online cross-boundary syndicate using overseas website to sell counterfeit goods

25 Aug 2013

Customs officers took action last Thursday (August 22) to smash a syndicate making use of an overseas website to sell counterfeit mobile phone casings and covers. Officers seized 7,500 pieces of mobile phone casings, covers, and a batch of computers, printers and photo-taking equipment from the syndicate's office cum storage place located in Tuen Mun. The seizure value amounted to $650,000. Four male and one female syndicate members, aged 34 to 41 were arrested and one of them was the syndicate head.

Acting on intelligence, customs officers discovered a website dedicated for supplying counterfeit mobile phone casings and covers. Upon receiving online orders, the website will deliver the goods to the customers by courier or postal service. After taking follow-up investigation for about a month, officers got hold of the operation mode and location of the syndicate and took swift action days ago.

The syndicate set up the website to display mobile phone casings and covers of various famous brands and models. After the customers made their payment through the designated online gateway, the syndicate will arrange delivery by courier or postal service.

The Group Head (Intellectual Property Investigation (Operations)) of the Customs and Excise Department, Mr Michael Kwan, said at the press conference today (August 25) that the website was not using a local domain name but a neighbouring place's domain name while the web server was set up at another overseas country to evade enforcement actions of different places by casting hurdles for investigators.

In the operation, customs officers searched the office cum storage place of the syndicate located in Tuen Mun and seized the batch of counterfeit mobile phone casings and covers, and a batch of professional photography equipment which was used to produce high quality photos of products to be shown on the website. Officers also seized several computers and printing equipment, as well as large quantities of packing materials.

The case is still under investigation. The arrestees were released on bail pending investigation.

According to the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, anyone who sells or possesses for sale any goods to which a forged trademark is applied commits an offence. Upon conviction, offenders may be liable to a maximum fine of $500,000 and imprisonment of 5 years.

Anyone with information about counterfeiting activities may report to Customs by the 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Sunday, August 25 2013

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