'It's a fake' is the excuse of the rich at Customs

Published: 30 October, 2012 07:29 IST | Bipin Kumar Singh |

Authorities allege they are burdened with the additional work of identifying fake watches, as an increasing number of passengers have been using the claim to escape paying taxes

The Customs officials at the Mumbai international airport have been left scratching their heads owing to a new conundrum. In the past few months, officials claim, they have been stuck trying to ascertain if high-fliers are bringing in fake high-end watches or if the watches they are bringing are real. A Customs official explained, “From a background of a passenger we can determine if the watches purchased by them are original or duplicate. 

Telling time: Officials say that the brand conscious, rich fliers often buy first copy of the high-end watches, which are very similar to the original making it even more difficult to ascertain if the watch is a fake or not

Fliers belonging to the middle class and labour class normally possess second or third copies of the original high-end watches, which we can easily identify to be fakes. However, the problem arises when the brand-conscious rich fliers buy first-copy of these watches, which are hard to identify. As soon as officials catch them for not declaring the watches and begin legal proceedings they declare the watches to be fake.”

He added that Customs officials are then burdened with additional work, as they have to dispatch officials to showrooms and experts to determine if the watch is an original or not. “Our staff who could be utilised for other important assignments have to be involved to authenticate the originality of these watches,” a source further told this newspaper.

On October 27, the Mumbai Customs intercepted 2G scam accused and Cineyug, MD, Karim Morani with five such high-end fake watches. Morani who did not declare these watches only divulged the details when the concerned official asked him about the details of these watches. Morani was only allowed to leave 45 minutes later after an expert confirmed the genuineness of the consignment.

Commissioner, Mumbai Airport Customs, P M Saleem, said, “There is a total reluctance on the part of travellers, as they never declare such items but claim innocence when caught claiming the watches are not originals. Such behaviour further raises doubt. Because these watches are prototype of high-end brands and we have to ascertain from the experts whether it is a fake or original.”

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