Dubai enforcement op seizes $330m in counterfeit watches

Dubai Police have confiscated more than 29,000 counterfeit designer watches with a value of more than $330m in an operation codenamed ‘60 Minutes’.

The operation resulted in the arrest of two men who ran the illegal business in Naif area, and resulted from “strong coordination between government entities and private companies”, according to a Dubai police statement.

Brig. Al Jalaf explained at a press conference that police acted on a report about the illegal activity.

“Upon receiving a tip from a reliable source on some illegal business promoting and selling counterfeit goods in Naif area, our team started investigating the case to pinpoint the suspects and locate their whereabouts,” he said.

“Soon after, the Crime Analysis Center at Dubai Police identified two suspects of Asian nationality who have criminal records and located two apartments where they stored the counterfeit goods.”

There’s no information yet on the specific brands whose intellectual property was being infringed by the cheap knock-offs, but the value of the haul at manufacturer’s recommended selling prices comes in at a hefty $12,000 per watch – suggesting high-end products were being copied.

A survey carried out by Red Points last year found that around two-thirds of consumers had bought a fake or ‘replica’ watch knowingly, and were satisfied with the product they received. It also found that 15-30 per cent of online searches relating to watches are directly seeking replica watches.

Swiss watchmaker industry body Haute Horlogerie estimates that approximately 40m fake Swiss watches go on sale each year, but only 30m genuine watches are manufactured, with lost sales estimated at $618m in 2017.

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