Territory-wide counterfeit phone blitz by Hong Kong Customs

A territory-wide Hong Kong Customs raid has resulted in arrests and netted 100 smartphones suspected of being counterfeits.

During the one-day Operation Snow Leopard, officers raided 12 shops and two storage places, seizing smartphones with suspected false trademarks or bearing possibly false trade descriptions. They also found about 3400 accessories also suspected of being fakes.

Arrested were 18 men and a woman between 21 and 48 years old, including shop owners and salespersons, while the market value of the seized goods is estimated to be about HK$1.5 million.

Customs had earlier received information alleging that some phone-repair shops sold suspected counterfeit smartphone accessories, and some shops were suspected to have engaged in unfair trade practices by selling old smartphones as new products, or selling parallel-imported smartphones as authorised products.

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After an in-depth investigation with the help of trademark owners, Customs took the enforcement action yesterday and raided 12 shops.

Customs also cracked down on a syndicate in connection with export, supply and distribution of suspected counterfeit smartphones and accessories. A total of 64 suspected counterfeit smartphones and 330 suspect accessories were seized from the storage places in Sham Shui Po and Tsing Yi.

A 32-year-old male head and 34-year-old female member of the syndicate were arrested. With the investigation ongoing, more arrests are possible.

Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau chief Catherine Yip says the successful detection of the case was attributed to reporting by members of the public and the full help of trademark owners.   
She says Customs will step up inspection and enforcement with the approach of the Labour Day Golden Week.

Customs says traders need to comply with the requirements of the Trade Description Ordinance (TDO) as the sale of counterfeit goods can lead to a fine of up to $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

Meanwhile, Customs has broadened reporting options by introducing a dedicated crime-reporting email account ([email protected]).

Intelligence Bureau chief Kitty Poon says public reports received by Customs have risen progressively by 21 per cent, from 31,994 in 2015 to 38,819 last year. Of these, the proportion received via email has grown from 30 per cent in 2015 to almost 40 per cent last year.

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