Hong Kong customs arrests 2 ex-company directors, as shoppers claim HK$400,000 in undelivered goods after abrupt store closure

Hong Kong customs arrests 2 ex-company directors, as shoppers claim HK$400,000 in undelivered goods after abrupt store closure

Hong Kong customs officers have arrested two former company directors after 451 shoppers complained they had not received HK$400,000 (US$51,000) worth of goods from a now-closed online household products store.

Senior Inspector Wong Din-chun of customs’ trade descriptions investigation bureau said on Thursday that officers had detained the two men, aged 33 and 38, the day before on suspicion of having no intention to supply the goods when they accepted customers’ payments.

“This is in violation of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance under the wrongly accepting payment section,” he said.

The online store, operated by two companies based in Lai Chi Kok and Kwun Tong, abruptly announced its closure earlier this month.

Wong said the suspects were directors of the two companies.

The Customs and Excise Department, which enforces the ordinance, received 451 complaints against the online store in the past two weeks, involving about HK$400,000 in funds as of Thursday.

The senior inspector said the complainants made prepaid orders for various goods including clothing, beauty and cosmetic products, food and household items, but never received the products or refunds.

Wong said the largest case involved about HK$20,000 in purchases.

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Senior Inspector Wong Din-chun of customs’ trade descriptions investigation bureau has not ruled out the possibility of further arrests. Photo: Facebook/Hong Kong Customs

An investigation into the store’s sudden closure was ongoing, he said.

Customs officers apprehended the pair on Wednesday for allegedly wrongly accepting payments when selling products – an offence punishable by up to five years in prison and a HK$500,000 fine.

The pair were released on bail pending further investigation.

Wong said customs would continue its investigation, and he did not rule out the possibility of further arrests.

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The department warned consumers to stay vigilant when shopping online.

“They should procure products at reputable shops and keep the transaction receipts and related records, which can become the basic information in case a complaint is lodged in the future,” the department said.

“Moreover, customers could choose payment methods such as ‘cash on delivery’ or ‘pay deposit first and then pay the balance’ when ordering goods on the internet.”

Members of the public can report suspected violations of the ordinance on customs’ 24-hour hotline at 2545 6182, or by email at [email protected].

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