Hong Kong customs has made its first-ever arrests over the sale of counterfeit goods via a live webcast on social media, detaining a couple and seizing HK$100,000 (US$13,000) worth of knock-off brand accessories.
The couple, both aged 30, were accused of setting up a web page on social media and touting accessories bearing forged trademarks – such as earrings, scarves and ornaments – through live shows, according to Wong Che-yin, head of customs’ intellectual property technology crime investigation division.
To avoid detection, the pair ran the webcast late at night. The weekly event lasted for five to six hours and attracted 50 to 60 viewers during the peak period.
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“The sellers did not appear in front of a camera during the webcast,” he said.
Interested buyers were asked to leave their contacts on the webpage and were later instructed to transfer money to a designated bank account before the goods were delivered, according to the Customs and Excise Department.
“The fake accessories were sold for between HK$20 and HK$100 each – around 5 per cent of the original price of their genuine counterparts,” Wong said.
He said he believed the illegal trade had been going on for a short period as the suspects took advantage of people who spent more time surfing the internet at home amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Authorities began investigating the matter after receiving a complaint recently in connection with the sale of bogus products via the web page.
Wong said undercover agents posing as buyers were also deployed to make purchases and gather evidence.
After identifying the suspects, customs officers raided a flat in Sha Tin and arrested the couple. Inside the flat, they found about 2,000 suspected counterfeit items with an estimated street value of HK$100,000. They are investigating the source of the goods.
The two suspects have been 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.
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This article Hong Kong customs makes first-ever arrests over sale of fake goods via live webcast first appeared on South China Morning Post