C&ED warns of seized goods scam

In a case of possible double fakery, the Hong Kong Customs & Excise Department (C&ED) has found online promotions for auctions and sales of goods allegedly seized by the department.

Posts have been detected on websites and in social media claiming that seized commodities stored in the department’s warehouse are available for sale at low prices or by online auction. The posts even include the department’s emblem and photographs from its press conferences.

A C&ED spokesman says the messages and promotional material may involve copyright infringement as well as unscrupulous sales practices, with possible violations of the Copyright Ordinance or the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO). The department has launched an investigation.

Regarding goods that have actually been forfeited by the department, the spokesman says that following legal proceedings the items are classified then passed to a relevant government department for coordination and follow-up if they are suitable for public auction.

He says consumers should be vigilant with online shopping and use reputable outlets. They should not buy items at suspicious websites or social-networking platforms.

The maximum penalty for a Copyright Ordinance breach is a fine of $50,000 for each infringement and imprisonment for four years. TDO contraventions can invoke a maximum fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

It the Customs investigation finds the relevant platforms are outside Hong Kong, the C&ED will refer cases to relevant law-enforcement authorities for joint follow-up, says the spokesman.

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