Hong Kong authorities have made their biggest ever seizure of counterfeit surgical masks, a consignment worth HK$8.5 million that was intercepted in the city on its way overseas. The record haul of about 330,000 bogus 3M-brand N95 respirators was confiscated from a logistics company’s warehouse in Kwai Chung last week, the Customs and Excise Department revealed on Tuesday. It was customs’ third such seizure in as many months, amid the world’s ongoing fight against the Covid-19 pandemic . Hong Kong designers of popular mask holders report flood of fakes About 100,000 counterfeit masks were seized in each of the two previous operations from October and November last year, and all were similarly destined for markets abroad. “In terms of its quantity and value, it is the biggest ever seizure of counterfeit surgical masks,” said Szeto Chi-fai, acting assistant superintendent of Customs’ Intellectual Property Transnational Investigation Division. Szeto said they were still investigating the consignment’s planned final destination, the origin of the goods and where they were manufactured. The packaging was printed in both Japanese and English, and he said it was possible the shipment, discovered last Thursday, was heading to Asian countries. “It might also be destined for other countries as there is high demand for anti-epidemic products in Europe and America due to the severity of the pandemic situation around the world,” Szeto said. Investigation showed the fakes were bought for HK$26 each by rogue traders, who planned to ship them abroad. In Hong Kong, a genuine respirator of that type is priced around HK$50. “We believe illegal merchants are trying to make profits by selling counterfeit masks in overseas markets,” Szeto said. He said they were investigating whether the latest case was linked to the previous two. No arrests were made in the latest case. According to the authority, blurred writing on the fake products distinguishes them from genuine ones. Samples of the seized items have been sent to a government laboratory to check whether the bacterial counts exceed the legal limit under the Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance. Since January 27, 2020, customs officers have conducted more than 40,000 inspections of retail outlets across the city selling protective health gear. More than 6.2 million surgical masks have been seized under the operation code-named “Guardian”. So far, officers have arrested 88 people on suspicion of violating the Trade Descriptions Ordinance or Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance.