With the 2022 FIFA World Cup matches approaching, Hong Kong Customs conducted a special operation between October 31 and November 10 with a view to combating criminals smuggling counterfeit goods related to the World Cup during the period. A total of 20 relevant cases were detected and more than 100 000 suspected counterfeit football jerseys, with an estimated market value of over $50 million, were seized. During the operation, Customs arrested 15 persons.
Through risk assessment and data analysis, Customs officers detected 10 cases and four cases at Shenzhen Bay Control Point and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Control Point respectively between October 31 and November 9, involving 14 inbound goods vehicles. Over 92 000 suspected counterfeit football jerseys, with an estimated market value of about $46 million, were seized. Fourteen male goods vehicle drivers, aged between 34 and 64, were arrested.
After an in-depth investigation, Customs officers on November 7 and 10 conducted strike-and-search operations at a number of logistics companies in Yuen Long, Tsing Yi and Kwai Chung, and further detected five cases. About 8 400 suspected counterfeit football jerseys, with an estimated value of about $4.3 million, were further seized.
Later, Customs on November 10 detected a case involving a local online shop. Customs officers found that someone was selling suspected counterfeit football jerseys through an online platform and arrested a 52-year-old man in Kwun Tong who was suspected of selling counterfeit football jerseys online. Three suspected counterfeit football jerseys were seized from him.
In the whole special operation, the seizure of suspected counterfeit football jerseys by Customs has broken the record for a single operation in terms of the seizure amount and the market value. Customs believes that most of the jerseys would have been re-exported to overseas countries while a small amount would have been sold in Hong Kong.
Investigations of the 20 cases are ongoing. The 15 arrested men have been released on bail pending further investigation.
Customs appeals to consumers to purchase goods at reputable shops or websites. To avoid purchasing counterfeit goods, they should check with the trademark owners or authorised agents if they are in doubt. The department also reminds traders or online sellers not to sell counterfeit goods and to be cautious and prudent in merchandising.
Customs will continue to step up stringent inspection and conduct intelligence-led enforcement to vigorously combat different types of counterfeit goods activities.
Selling counterfeit goods is a serious crime and offenders are liable to criminal sanctions. Under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, any person who imports or exports or sells or possesses for sale any goods to which a forged trademark is applied commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.
Members of the public may report any suspected counterfeiting activities to Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 or its dedicated crime-reporting email account (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ends/Thursday, November 17, 2022