Customs denies arranging online auction of confiscated goods

Hong Kong Customs clarified on Tuesday that it had never arranged a public auction on social media or published websites to sell confiscated items in response to two Facebook pages claiming so earlier.

The two Facebook pages, "Matiny" and "Yimi-shop," with website hyperlinks registered in the United States and Canada respectively were found falsely claiming that Customs was selling confiscated items by public auction.

One of them even claimed that the proceeds from the auction would be used for charity purposes.

Customs said that the pages conveyed false information that conspired to mislead members of the public. It also suspected intellectual property rights infringement involved and noted that there may be offenses under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance and Copyright Ordinance of Hong Kong.

It was said to have already requested that the social media platform's operator remove the messages and hyperlinks as soon as possible. The department will also contact INTERPOL for follow-up action.

Customs reiterated that confiscated items of all types will be handled strictly in accordance with the established guidelines upon the completion of legal procedures.

Items suitable for placing on public auction would be coordinated and handled by the government department concerned, and that the department had never worked with any external bodies to hold a public auction.

Customs stressed that it has strived to combat unfair trade practices and infringing activities online. It also maintained close co-operation with law enforcement authorities of other countries and regions to combat cross-boundary infringement activities and to protect the rights of consumers and legitimate traders.

Customs reminded consumers that they should stay vigilant when shopping online and procure products at reputable shops. Consumers were also reminded to contact trademark owners or traders for inquiries in case of doubts.

In addition, Customs said a follow-up investigation will be conducted if the infringing activities involve local persons. If the relevant platform is located outside Hong Kong but is involved in local criminal infringement activities, it will refer the cases to law enforcement authorities outside Hong Kong for joint follow-up actions.