Customs and Excise officials from several countries have seized $2 million of counterfeit ink toner cartridges in Hong Kong following investigations carried out by an Australian-based undercover agent.
Fuji Xerox Australia corporate affairs director, Ramsay Moody, said he feared such products could arrive in Australia through legitimate channels. He was responsible for coordinating the Hong Kong raid.
The Australian arm of the printing vendor had provided the sleuth because it is the regional headquarters. Three other agents from Japan were involved.
Hong Kong Customs is pressing charges against an IT distributor in the former British colony. Its owner faces up to five years in prison, plus a large fine, if found guilty.
While the distributor has dealings in Australia, Moody was unsure whether any of the fake cartridges had entered the local market.
In the past year, Fuji Xerox had been involved in two other raids in Singapore, one of which netted fake products worth $US9 million.
“We have been involved in raids worth $15 million overall, not all of it was our product,” Moody said “It is a cooperative approach across the industry. Everybody has the same problem.”
This latest case came to light in March, when fake ink toner cartridges damaged printers in North America. Fuji Xerox said the price of the fake cartridges was the biggest giveaway – much less than the $200-$300 charged for the genuine article.
The supplies were traced back through Europe to Hong Kong, where Moody coordinated the operations. The sting took a month and netted 2800 cartridges.
“Factories pop up all the time, with a new name and owners the next day,” Moody said. “We have surveillance systems in place that watch the door.
“You think the building is empty, but the counterfeiters know you are watching them.
"In a Singapore warehouse raid before Christmas, we turned our backs for a minute and the product disappeared.”
Joshua Velling, product manager for Fuji Xerox distributor, Tech Pacific, insisted counterfeit products were not much of an issue for the channel.