Fake Peninsula mooncakes yield arrests and HK$66,000 haul
Production source still being investigated after customs officers posed as consumers
The Peninsula hotel has become the latest brand to fall victim to counterfeiters as more than 200 boxes of mini-egg custard mooncakes bearing its forged trademark were confiscated by Hong Kong customs on Thursday.
A genuine box of the mooncakes described as a “bestseller” and marked with “Sold Out” retailed for HK$338 on The Peninsula Hotels website, but the fakes were priced at HK$368 in a Sheung Shui shop and sold for HK$310 per box on the internet.
Customs officers seized 213 boxes of the fake brand-name product after undercover agents posing as consumers were deployed to buy from the shop and browse through an online platform. The haul had an estimated market value of HK$66,000.
Five Hongkongers – three men and two women – were arrested for the sale of the counterfeit mooncakes, according to the Customs and Excise Department.
The Post understands three boxes of the counterfeit products were mingled with about 50 genuine boxes of mooncakes for sale in the Sheung Shui shop that also carries medicine and dried seafood.
The other fakes were seized at a shop in Mong Kok that was used as a warehouse.
“After receiving online orders, the boxes of fakes were handed over to buyers at MTR stations,” assistant superintendent Peggy Tam Pui-ying, head of Customs’ intellectual property general investigation division, said.
She said initial investigation showed the two parties were not linked.
Officers were still investigating the source of the fakes, but investigations showed they were not produced locally.
Tam said the results of an initial examination of the fakes showed no heavy metal was present in them but that further tests were needed.
The authority believed a very limited quantity had been sold in Hong Kong for Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on October 4.
“The fake brand-name mooncakes were put on sale recently,” Tam said. She urged consumers to shop through authorised dealers and reputable shops.
The five suspects were released on bail pending further investigation.
Under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, those who sell goods bearing a forged trademark face a jail term of up to five years and a HK$500,000 fine.
In the run-up to next month’s festival, customs officials have stepped up patrols across the city looking for counterfeit items such as lanterns.
On Thursday, they arrested 10 people and seized more than 200 suspected counterfeit lanterns and 800 other dubious-quality goods such as stationery at local outlets. The haul was worth about HK$50,000.
The public may report suspicious activities to Customs’ 24-hour hotline at +852 2545 6182.