Hong Kong Customs yesterday (November 14) conducted an enforcement operation to combat the online sale of counterfeit leather products and accessories. About 380 items of suspected counterfeit goods, including leather handbags, leather wallets and accessories, with an estimated market value of about $750,000 were seized.
Customs officers conducted investigations and analyses through a big data analytics system, and traced suspicious accounts selling counterfeit goods through online platforms by means of targeted deployments. An initial investigation revealed that a seller set up online accounts and used pre-order service and discounted price to attract customers when selling suspected counterfeit handbags and accessories on an online platform.
The online seller used different kinds of excuses to avoid face-to-face transactions and requested buyers to deposit money into designated bank accounts. The delivery mode would also be confined to express courier services so that buyers would not have the opportunity to check the authenticity of goods in person.
After an in-depth investigation, Customs officers yesterday posed as customers and conducted a test-purchase online. They also raided a residential premises in Sai Kung and seized the batch of suspected counterfeit goods. A 47-year-old woman suspected to be connected with the case was also arrested.
An investigation is ongoing.
Customs appeals to consumers to purchase goods at reputable shops or websites. When doing online shopping, consumers should pay attention to the online shop's history, the seller's credit rating and whether only a single payment method is offered. They should also compare the prices of goods carefully to lower the risk of purchasing counterfeit goods. Consumers are advised to check with the trademark owners or authorised agents if they are in doubt.
Customs also reminds online sellers not to sell counterfeit goods and to be cautious and prudent in merchandising since selling counterfeit goods is a serious crime and offenders are liable to criminal sanctions.
Under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO), any person who sells or possesses for sale any goods with a forged trademark commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.
Moreover, Customs noticed the rising popularity of online consumption, which involved a diversity of goods and services, such as reserving admission tickets of different types of activities like concerts and themed running events via online platforms. Customs appeals to consumers to pay attention to the relevant terms and conditions before making any purchase decisions. They should also read carefully information such as the user guidelines, the after-sales services and the refund arrangements stipulated by the online platforms which provided the goods or services.
Since the majority of the online platforms providing goods or services for consumers to purchase are a third party, consumers are advised to check with the organisers if they are in doubt. They should also keep records of their reservations in order to recover losses in case of disputes.
Members of the public may report any suspected violations of the TDO to Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 or its dedicated crime reporting email account (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ends/Tuesday, November 15, 2022