Change in tactics by vendors of fake goods

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 December, 2006, 12:00am

Sellers of counterfeit products are increasingly moving to smaller showrooms away from street level with internal exits to avoid detection, customs officials have found.

The trend also sees counterfeit goods dealers selling smaller but more valuable items such as fake designer watches and jewellery to minimise losses when they make their escapes from officials, said Samson Chiu Yuk-hung, customs divisional commander of the Trade Description Investigation Division.

'They are using smaller units in residential buildings with internal trap doors that open onto a terrace, or they use units on lower floors so they can climb out of windows,' he said. 'They also take up short leases for about one to two months a time and operate at irregular hours.'

Mr Chu said he had seen four to five such cases since September.

Showrooms for counterfeit goods were typically 800 to 1,000 square feet, but they are now usually half that size. Instead of displaying their goods on the street, vendors lure tourists to the residential units with photos of their wares.

Officials have called on tour guides to avoid known black spots for counterfeit goods.

'There have been cases where the culprits have forced tourists to squat down for an hour with the lights off as customs officials were outside the unit,' Mr Chiu said.

Customs officials and the Travel Industry Council have held joint seminars reminding tour guides not to take tourists to buy counterfeit goods. But Edmund Cheng Ngai-man, of customs' Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau, denied this was a growing problem.

With the Christmas season in full swing and the Lunar New Year around the corner, customs officials said they would be stepping up action, especially in popular shopping areas such as Tsim Sha Tsui, Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok.