German customs score seizure successes worth millions. Hong Kong’s authorities arrest counterfeiters selling via livestream. A Europe-wide operation dismantles a movie piracy ring. And a German vineyard is presumably the victim of a stunning counterfeiting operation.

German customs reports seizures worth millions
German customs officials currently report a series of seizure successes: Customs at Cologne/Bonn Airport, for example, confiscated counterfeits worth around 5.7 million euros. About 1,700 counterfeit handbags and more than 7,000 fake shoes of well-known brands were seized. According to a spokesperson, customs are currently experiencing a “downright flood of fakes” of typical counterfeits such as bags and shoes. Meanwhile, customs officials in Rosenheim, Bavaria, stopped over one ton of counterfeit brand-name clothing. The seizure had already taken place at the end of last year, but was only recently announced due to ongoing inquiries. In a truck arriving from Turkey, the officials had discovered around 2,300 counterfeit clothing items violating the trademarks of 36 well-known manufacturers. Another customs success was achieved in Hamburg, where officials inspected a container shipment and confiscated several boxes containing around 1,000 fake swimming aids.

Hong Kong: Trade in counterfeits via live webcast stopped
For the first time, customs authorities in Hong Kong have arrested suspects who allegedly sold counterfeits via a live webcast on social media. The criminal couple is accused of selling fake brand accessories, including earrings and scarves. The weekly, several hours long livestreams took place late at night to avoid detection, according to the authorities. The counterfeiters are said to have reached up to 60 viewers per event. To stop the criminal business, officials posed undercover as potential buyers; during the subsequent raid of the couple’s apartment, around 2,000 presumedly fake goods were seized. Customs assumes that the counterfeiters have been active only recently and took advantage of the fact that people spend more time online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Piracy network worth millions dismantled in Europe
Officials from Europol and Eurojust, as well as national law enforcement agencies, including authorities from several European countries and America, have now taken action against a suspected movie piracy ring, mainly focused on unreleased films and other illegal digital content. The criminal network is said to have copied and illegally hosted hundreds of films. The investigators have now shut down around 60 servers, including severs based in Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Furthermore, two suspects have been arrested in Cyprus and the United States. The criminals had gained access to films prior to their retail release date, for example by posing as DVD and Blu-ray dealers to film distributors. They then copied the content and published it online via streaming platforms and peer-to-peer and torrent networks.

Rhineland-Palatinate winery presumably fell victim to wine counterfeiters
Wine counterfeiters are suspected of having broken into the renowned winery Egon Müller-Scharzhof and of having stolen bottle labels. This affects labels of high-quality wines, which were already equipped with consecutive bottle numbers. The winery now suspects that counterfeiters could apply these original labels to counterfeit wines – making the fakes almost indistinguishable from the originals from the outside. Counterfeit wines carrying the stolen labels might even already be in circulation, as the winery fears. To help customers spot possible counterfeits, the producer has now publicly shared the bottle numbers of the stolen labels.

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Sources: Hauptzollamt Köln, Hauptzollamt Rosenheim, Hauptzollamt Hamburg; The Star; Europol; Falstaff