Hong Kong customs officers have arrested a suspected counterfeiter following the seizure of HK$400,000 (S$70,315) worth of fake trainers that sold for up to HK$8,000 a pair online.
The arrest of the 24-year-old local man was made near the office of a courier company in Yuen Long on Wednesday night, as part of a test-buy operation in which officers, posing as customers, bought fake sports shoes on the internet.
Four pairs dropped off for delivery by the suspect were found at the firm, with another 80 bearing the brand names Nike and Adidas discovered during a raid of his two-storey village house in the same district.
Assistant superintendent Lawrence Ng Chun-wah, of customs' intellectual property technology investigation division, said the suspect left the courier company, where he arranged the delivery of four pairs of the fake sports shoes to buyers.
Customs officers began investigating his activities after receiving a complaint from a consumer who bought 72 pairs of fake sports shoes through a social media platform about three months ago.
A law enforcement source said the buyer wanted to resell the goods to make a profit, but found out they were fake products.
Preliminary investigation showed the suspect posted photographs of limited-edition sneakers along with his contact number and the price of the goods on two of his social media accounts, according to the Customs and Excise Department.
Buyers contacted the suspect through instant messaging service App and they were requested to place their orders and pay hundreds of dollars as deposit into a designated bank account.
Having been informed the goods were available, they were instructed to pay the balance before the fakes were sent to them by courier.
According to the department, the 156 pairs of fake shoes seized in the operation were worth about HK$400,000.
Ng said investigations showed the replicas were copies of limited-production sneakers and the fakes were sold to buyers as genuine products.
He said there was high demand of the real ones in the market and some might have been sold in retail outlets.
"The price of the fakes were sold for as much as the retail price of the genuine sneakers and some were sold two times the price of the real ones," he said.
He said some of the counterfeits were of high quality and it was not easy for consumers to distinguish the fakes. Customs officers are still trying to track down the source and supplier of the fakes.
The assistant superintendent said initial investigation showed the counterfeit activities had been in operation for about three months and they were still probing whether the suspect had an accomplice and how many fake products had been sold.
Customs officers had seized the man's computer and mobile phone for examination.
As of 4pm on Thursday, the suspect was still being held for questioning and had not been charged.
Under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, the maximum penalty for selling or possessing for sale counterfeit goods is five years in jail and a HK$500,000 fine.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.