Tour group shopping scammer arrested

Customs officials have promised to clamp down on tour group shopping scammers after the arrest of a woman caught coercing tourists to spend at a shop in Hung Hom yesterday.

The Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) had in October received a complaint from a visitor alleging they were being forced to buy goods inside a shop under a tour group arrangement. The incident was suspected to have constituted an offence of engaging in an aggressive commercial practice under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO).

“Upon further investigation, Customs officers of the Unfair Trade Practice Investigation Group this morning (November 5) arrested a 59-year-old woman, who was the person in charge, at a shop at Hung Hom. The case is still under investigation and further arrest may be made,” Hong Kong Customs said in a statement.

Now, the C&ED is conducting patrols at shopping spots for tour groups in popular tourist shopping areas, such as Hung Hom, To Kwa Wan, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kwun Tong, Kowloon Bay, Tai Kok Tsui and Lai Chi Kok to detect any violations of the TDO.

Under the ordinance, offenders face a penalty as high as $500,000 and five years in prison upon conviction.

The C&ED has reminded retailers and staff in the tourist industry to abide by the law.

“A trader commits an offence of engaging in an aggressive commercial practice under the TDO if he or she uses harassment, coercion or undue influence to impair the consumer’s freedom of choice or conduct in relation to a product which causes or is likely to cause the consumer to make a transactional decision.

“Persons in charge of the shop will also be liable if the offence is committed with their consent or connivance or is attributed to their neglect,” the statement said.

Anyone can report suspected cases to the C&ED by calling the 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

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