Pirates now accepting credit cards

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 January, 2007, 12:00am

Shoppers lured by new tactic risk having data stolen

Vendors of counterfeit products are switching from 'cash-only' sales and beginning to accept payment by credit card to lure shoppers to spend more, customs officials say.

However, shoppers run the risk of having their card data stolen, they warned.

The new tactics came to light during a city-wide anti-piracy operation over the past month in which 130 people were arrested and HK$10.4 million worth of fake products seized. In one raid in Mong Kok, customs officers seized a credit card payment device in a so-called display room where fake products were sold.

Edmond Cheng Ngai-man, group head of intellectual property investigation (operations), said: 'We believe the counterfeit-goods dealers are targeting travellers who might not carry lots of cash. It can also be easier to lure shoppers to buy more at a time, although they do not have enough cash.

'If counterfeiters steal card data, it could give rise to credit card frauds. We urge shoppers not to shop at such stalls and not to pay by card,' Mr Cheng said.

In the month-long anti-piracy operation launched on December 11, 290 customs officers raided stalls and warehouses in Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui, North Point and Kwun Tong. They seized 17,000 fake items, mainly leather bags, watches and sports shoes, valued at HK$2.2 million. Officers also found 340,000 pirated DVDs and CDs valued at HK$8.2 million.

Mr Cheng said officers would monitor stalls at flower fairs in the run-up to the Lunar New Year.

Under the Copyright Ordinance, it is an offence to possess an infringing copy of a copyright work for sale or hire. The offence is punishable by up to four years' jail and a fine of HK$50,000 for each item.

Under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, anyone who sells counterfeit goods faces a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment and a fine of HK$500,000.