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Hong Kong deploys a new system to nab online sellers of counterfeit goods

Nurdianah Md Nur | July 28, 2015
Sellers of fake goods now prefer social media sites to online auction sites, according to the Hong Kong customs.

It is now tougher for sellers selling fake goods to slip away as the Hong Kong customs has implemented a system that traces counterfeit transactions on social media platforms.

Called SocNet, the system was jointly developed by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department and the University of Hong Kong. SocNet constantly scans social networking sites, and talks to targeted dealers using artificial intelligence to identify sellers selling counterfeit products. These sellers can then be traced by customs officers.

SocNet could improve the customs' efficiency in handling online counterfeit cases by 90 percent, Guy Fong Wing-kai, a commander in the customs' technology crime investigation division, told the South China Morning Post. In the first half of this year, 99 cases of online counterfeit sales were reported, and 112 people were arrested for trading counterfeit goods via the Internet.

While online auction sites used to be the preferred platform for counterfeit trading, sellers of fake goods are gradually favouring social media sites. Customs figures revealed that from January to June last year, 79 percent of fake online trades were made on auction websites. For the same period this year, social networks accounted for 65 percent of such cases.

"We will arrest lawbreakers when we entice them to came out to trade," said Louise Ho Pui-shan, head of intellectual property investigation for customs. "We also have cooperation with [delivery] companies, which could help us find them even if they don't come out."


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