Weibo an open marketplace of fake goods in Vancouver 0
Weibo, a Chinese language version of Twitter, is being used by Vancouver vendors to sell replica luxury items out in the open and out of the view of authorities. (SCREEN GRAB WEIBO.COM)
The knock-off bag racket has packed up its things and moved online, with sellers hawking merchandise right under the noses of authorities in Vancouver using a Chinese version of Twitter.
Replica bags and clothes are now being sold via Weibo, a Chinese-language social networking site. Many of the vendors claim to be local university students.
Posing as a customer, 24 hours communicated with a vendor selling a Hermes Birkin bag for $1,750 — claiming a real one costs $10,000, plus a two-year wait.
“You can bring it to the brand counter in the mall and no one will see the difference,” said the vendor, known as “Tinasss.”
Tinasss said it was “impossible” for border officials to confiscate the bags when they arrive in the country, telling 24 hours she’d been doing it a long time without hassle.
Another vendor, calling the operation “annalovechanel,” advertises more than a dozen products, acknowledging they’re not real.
“There are only dozens for each colour! You have to wait for the next batch when this batch is sold out,” reads an ad for a belt. “When you have it in your hand you will know it is different from ordinary fake stuff! Hurry up!”
Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network chair Wayne Edwards said security underfunding has made it easy for small-time importers to get knock-off products into Canada.
“The answer I get is the Canadian government is mostly focused on terrorism and things of that nature and counterfeiting isn’t high profile,” said Edwards.
Edwards said a bill aimed at stifling these products in Canada was not passed before the prorogation of Parliament in August. He’s hoping it makes its way back to Ottawa next session.
Const. Brian Montague of the Vancouver police said the department enforces current counterfeiting laws.
“The VPD does have officers that investigate complaints and offences related to the sale of counterfeit goods and we have worked with other agencies and the courts in the seizure of counterfeit items,” said Montague. “It is not illegal to own a counterfeit item in Canada, but it is illegal to sell them.”
Most vendors said they wanted payment upfront and would then meet in person or mail the bag to the buyer within five days.
Vendors said if the quality of a knock-off item was not satisfactory they would refund money, provided a receipt was produced.