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Consumers

Hong Kong Customs arrest eight in crackdown on fake watch sales

Officals raid seven businesses in Sheung Wan for sale of counterfeit timepieces allegedly brought in from mainland China

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 July, 2016, 5:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 July, 2016, 6:59pm

Hong Kong Customs Department officers arrested eight people and confiscated more than 200 bogus, pseudo-vintage timepieces in a series of raids on Sheung Wan antique businesses on Tuesday.

In an effort to root out counterfeit activities, customs officers posing as shoppers visited a number of antique shops and hawker stalls in Upper Lascar Row, also known as Cat Street, Hollywood Road, Lok Ku Road and Tung Street. The area is known for antiques, arts, painting, classic furniture, pottery and souvenirs.

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Customs officials raided five antique shops and two hawker stalls on Tuesday after undercover agents were sold counterfeit, Omega-branded pocket watches and desk clocks.

During the operation, customs officers apprehended eight people – seven shop proprietors and one salesperson aged between 26 and 63 – and seized 224 fake, pseudo-vintage watches and clocks.

Sources with the knowledge of the case said the fake products were purchased from mainland China for 40 yuan (HK$46) to 100 yuan (HK$116) each before being brought into Hong Kong.

The Customs Department estimated the fake merchandise seized during Tuesday’s raids had a street value of HK$40,000.

“To make them look like antiques and more attractive, the timepieces appeared to have been etched and applied something to give them a worn look,” one source said.

“The fakes mingled with other trinkets in these shops and were sold for between HK$100 and HK$300 each. They are very popular among tourists.”

Customs launched their investigation into the sale of fake watches about a month ago after receiving a number of complaints, the source added.

Head of Customs’ Intellectual Property Investigation Group, Guy Fong Wing-kai said peddlers of the fake watches deliberately targeted sales at unsuspecting tourists by pricing the items high and bargaining to a lower price.

“It was the first-ever operation targeting the sale of suspected counterfeit pseudo-vintage watches and clocks,” Fong said.

“We were told tourists were initially offered the price of more than HK$1,000 per piece, “ he said.

The eight suspects – five men and three women – have been released on bail pending further investigation.

Under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, the maximum penalty for selling or possessing for sale counterfeit goods is a HK$500,000 fine and five years’ jail.

Anyone with information relating to the sale of suspected counterfeit goods is urged to call Customs’ 24-hour hotline on 2545 6182.