Undercover Operation Nets Tons of Allegedly Counterfeit Cosmetics

At least 20 tons of allegedly counterfeit cosmetic products were confiscated on Monday after an undercover government officer infiltrated an illegal Phnom Penh business for more than a month, an official said.

The seizure of goods from a house in Chamkar Mon district follows a series of recent crackdowns on fake goods by the Interior Ministry, in which hauls of between 30 and 38 tons of products were seized by authorities in different raids.

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Skin whitening products are displayed at a beauty shop on Street 63 in Phnom Penh last year. (Brian Leli/The Cambodia Daily)

“There was lotion, whitening products and other cosmetic products that we do not believe are real products. But we cannot prove that yet, as this has to be tested in the lab,” Touch Yuthea, deputy secretary of the Interior Ministry’s Counter Counterfeit Committee, said of the crackdown on Monday.

“But definitely this is an illegal operation as the warehouse has no license,” he said.

The ministry’s “spy” worked undercover in the house for six weeks to gather information, Brigadier General Yuthea said, collecting evidence of the business’s illegality. The house’s lack of visible business signage outside also made it suspicious, he said.

“That already means there is something to hide,” he said.

The precise location of the house, whether anyone connected to the confiscated goods had been arrested, and the estimated value of the products could not be confirmed on Monday.

Brig. Gen. Yuthea said he was still working on the case, and later could not be reached.

Earlier this month, Interior Ministry officials displayed a combined haul of nearly 70 tons of confiscated counterfeit beauty products, including fakes of some of the world’s biggest brands, potentially worth millions of dollars.

Meach Sophana, president of the ministry’s Counter Counterfeit Committee, called it “a historic bust of fake products.”

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