Customs mounts special operation against sale of counterfeit facial masks (with photo)

     In a special operation mounted by officers of the Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau last week, a number of retail shops and storage centres in the territory were raided for the sale and distribution of suspected counterfeit facial masks. Customs officers seized a total of 5 119 boxes containing about 51 000 suspected counterfeit facial masks with a total value of about $266,000. Nine men and three women, including salespersons, shop owners, merchandisers and suppliers, aged between 19 and 52, were arrested.

     Customs had earlier received a complaint on the sale of suspected counterfeit facial masks at a pharmacy in Tsim Sha Tsui. Customs officers conducted a search at the pharmacy last week and seized 245 boxes (each containing 10 pieces) of suspected counterfeit facial masks with a total retail value of about $12,700. A salesman and the two shop owners were arrested.

     Based on further information gathered, Customs officers searched a unit of an industrial building in Tai Po and seized another 3 008 boxes of suspected counterfeit facial masks. A person responsible was arrested.

     After further investigation, Customs officers raided a storage centre in Sheung Shui two days ago and seized 1 496 boxes of the same type of suspected counterfeit facial masks. Two persons responsible were arrested. Officers subsequently raided two retail shops and seized another 370 boxes of the same suspected counterfeit facial masks. Six persons, including salesmen, merchandisers and shop owners, were arrested.

     In the operation, it was found that the retail shops and wholesale centres mixed the suspected counterfeits with genuine goods for sale in order to generate higher profits.

     Customs believes that a syndicate supplying suspected counterfeit facial masks has been smashed. Investigation is ongoing.

     Laboratory analysis revealed that the suspected counterfeit facial masks seized in the operation have no adverse effect on the human body. Customs advises consumers to purchase goods from reputable shops and to carefully distinguish between genuine products and counterfeits to protect their own interests.

     It is the responsibility of suppliers and retail shops to ensure that the products they sell are genuine goods. Customs appeals to suppliers and retail shops to stay vigilant when dealing with goods. They should ensure that the goods come from the rightful manufacturers and agents. Under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, it is a criminal offence to sell goods with a forged trademark. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

     Anyone who comes across suspected counterfeiting activities can make a report to Customs on the 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Thursday, March 20, 2014
Issued at HKT 17:00