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Staff Stole artistry, the police destroy “Super A” Seagull Watch Workshop

A few days ago, the police in the Hebei District of Tianjin uncovered a case of counterfeit registered trademark. A counterfeiting gang was destroyed, 7 suspects were caught, and about 800 finished fake watches were taken over, including about 20 cases of accessories. The overall amount of money involved was more than 10 million yuan.

In the early 2015, economy detection branch of Hebei public security received an informer from Tianjin Seagull Watch Company. This informer was a salesman of the company. He said that recently, he found an online shop was selling Seagull watches, and that a seagull watch priced about 3000 yuan in the shop only asked for 500 to 600 yuan online. After reporting this case, at first, the company doubted whether some workers stole watches from the factory and sold them online. However, when seeing the hot sales record of this online shop, the company checked, finding there hadn’t been so many stolen accessory parts. Later, the company purchased a watch from this shop and asked the technician of the factory to distinguish. The technician immediately found that this watch was far different from the genuine ones: lettering was not clear enough, the surface was not smooth, the watchband was not real leather, the steel at the back was slightly thin, and there was obvious difference in weight. All signs showed that the products in this online shop were counterfeit and shoddy products. However, on the webpage of this online shop, it boasted that all these products were made in Tianjin Seagull Watch Company, and if there was any problem, it offered lifetime warranty and the watch would be sent back to the original factory. Thus, the company believed that the online shop’s behavior seriously damaged its reputation. As a result, it went to the police.

According to the website provided by the informer, the police found that shop online. All watches on sale in the shop were Seagull watches in different types, at the price of 500 to 1500 yuan. The main pictures about the details of the products were official pictures of Seagull Watch rather than figure photos of the products, and the description of the watches was from the original company. It was surprising that the sales record of each of these watches was nearly 100.

In order to make sure there was no escaped criminal, the police searched for Seagull Watch online, finding five more websites with extremely low price. The registration places of these five online shops were all in Tianjin, but they were spread in different districts of the city. The farthest one was in Binhai New Area and the nearest one was in Jianchangdao in Hebei District. Therefore, the police decided to start from this shop.

The police was divided into three groups. The first group went to Hangzhou to investigate the sales record of the online shop; the second group contacted the cheated buyers according to the sales record; the third group went to a flat in a residential quarter in Jianchangdao to investigate the identity of the shopkeeper.

Through the real name authentication of the online shop, the police learned that the registered person Qian XX, native to Sanhe County of Hebei. But real name authentication didn’t represent the actual operation was Qian XX. The police found the house-owner, and with inquiry, this flat was rented to others but the house-owner didn’t know its usage. The house-owner offered the tenant’s copy of ID card, which showed that it wasn’t Qian XX.

When investigating and collecting evidence step by step, the police found this online shop was closed. Then, the other five watch shops were successively closed soon. The police immediately investigated the physical store of this website, only to find the flat was already empty. All clues were cut off.

Though clues were cut off, the police didn’t abandon this case. Based on the fact the six online shopkeepers were all from Sanhe County, the police believed that these people were probably not involved in operation, and maybe the operator behind of these shops was the same person who possessed the workshops of the fake watches. The sales record showed that this shop had the hottest sales record among the six shops, so the police paid close attention to it.

With unremitting efforts, in March this year, the police found this online shop was reopened. Compared with its previous simple style, it tended to a low and steady high-end path. Together with the product introduction of the name-list watches, the whole shop instantly seemed to be elegant and high-grade. But the price of the watch was the same. Then, the police searched the other five online shops. As expected, they all restarted business.

This time, the police located Chunherenju Community in Jianchangdao. This flat showed it was not a rental property, but instead, it was used by the house-owner. The house-owner Zhou XX was native to Sanhe County, and the police contacted the watch company, finding there was also a technician in this company called Zhou XX from Sanhe County. Was it a coincidence? Did the technician plan to make profits with skills? To prevent the shop was closely again, the police decided to attack immediately.

In early July, Hebei economy detection branch, together with the industrial and commercial bureau and Seagull Watch Company, were divided into two groups; one group went to the factory and took Zhou XX under control. The other group went to Chunherenju Community. The police successfully went into the flat, where the scene was surprising: This was a house with three rooms and two halls. In the living room, there were two computers, and the webpage on the computer showed the connection between the customer service and the buyers; on the balcony, there were several large boxes. After checking, it was found that all were watch accessories and packing boxes; a larger bedroom was used as “workshop”, where four “technicians” were assembling accessories, and behind the “technicians”, there were boxes of finished and packaged watches; the other two smaller rooms were staff dormitory. Though the room was crowded with various accessories, it was not in chaos. Zhou XX and his wife, together with several staff were captured.

With checking on the spot, about 800 watches were collected and more than 20 boxes of accessories including dial plates, watchbands, watch cores and packing boxes were taken over. With interrogation, Zhou XX stated all criminal facts that together with his wife, he purchased fake Seagull accessories and asked 4 fellow townsmen to present to be genuine Seagull watches to sell online. Yesterday, 7 people involved were arrested according to law.

Interview script:

In the interview, the journalist learnt that Zhou and his wife both worked in Tianjin Seagull Watch Company for more than 10 years. From a villager who couldn’t do anything to a skilled technician, not only had Zhou learned to repair watches, but also he had felt out the circumstances of other watch factories.

At the beginning, Zhou just wanted to leave the company and worked on accessory processing of ordinary watches. If they received some orders, they could only get some charge for workmanship, which was time-consuming and low-profit. If they assembled accessories, the profit is not high too. Later, He turned his attention to Seagull Watch he dealt with every day. There was a watch wholesale market in Guangzhou, which was the largest distributing center of watch accessories in China. Zhou contacted one factory manufacturing spare and accessory parts, clearly sending pictures of every part of Seagull Watch to the factory, which made a same sample and sent to Zhou. Zhou was not satisfied at first. He contacted the genuine ones every day, so he could feel the difference as soon as he touched it. But soon, he felt relieved. The cost of the genuine watch was much higher, and the cost of this false one was just 300 yuan, whose quality was naturally not satisfactory. In order to broaden sales, Zhou didn’t price the watch high, and unexpectedly, the sales took off quickly.

In 2015, the police developed the activity of striking the crimes of infringing upon intellectual property. Zhou was afraid that his shops were reported and closed forcefully, so he removed off all the products and asked staff to go back to hometown to live for a year. The activities of striking counterfeits didn’t end, but he was already used to the luxurious life and couldn’t stand the income of only several thousands yuan every month. Therefore, he reopened the shop again, but he didn’t expect he was soon caught by the police.

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