Almost 20 people were arrested at the weekend after customs officers raided a dozen mobile phone shops and seized more than 3,000 counterfeit accessories and 100 used smartphones being sold as new. About 130 officers swooped on the shops in Sin Tat Plaza in Mong Kok, Sham Shui Po and Causeway Bay on Saturday. Brands being sold included iPhone, Samsung, Xiaomi and Sony. A total of 17 owners and sales staff were arrested. Officers also raided two storage units in Sham Shui Po and Tsing Yi controlled by a syndicate that was accused of distributing counterfeit phones and accessories to the local shops and exporting them. The suspected leader of the syndicate, 32, and a 34-year-old woman working for him were both arrested. The officers seized goods worth a total of HK$1.5 million. Catherine Yip Wai-sim, head of customs’ intellectual property investigation bureau, said the seized accessories were sophisticated imitations and hard to tell from the real thing unless examined closely. Used or counterfeit phones were sold among authentic items, with prices 40 to 50 per cent lower than usual. “These shops collected used phones and put them together with whole or partially counterfeit accessories into [seemingly] new sets and claimed they were brand-new products from authorised dealers,” Yip said. She warned the fake gadgets could be dangerous and reminded the public to be vigilant for items sold at prices much lower than normal.