The Montgomery County Consumer Affairs Office has issued a warning about a group selling counterfeit watches in the parking lots of shopping centers in the county.

The sales persons, peddling fake gold and diamond Omega watches, often work out of a van set up in the lots, a spokeswoman for the consumer office said.

County investigator Susan Cohen said the office received complaints from people who purchased counterfeit Omega watches for about $100. Cohen said the watches, if genuine, "would be worth thousands, but these are worth about $10 to $14."

Cohen said the consumer affairs office believes this to be the same group that operated in the county last fall selling counterfeit Omega and Seiko watches and diamond rings. The consumer affairs office and the Montgomery police are investigating the sales.

"The best we can do is be well educated about this," Cohen said. "Holiday season would seem the time when people are ripe for the picking. There is just so much advertising now, and everything is on sale, people sometimes can't differentiate.

"The best thing to remember is that you get what you pay for and that an authorized, established jeweler is the place to buy."

The watches have Omega printed on the face, but the warranty does not list local authorized dealers and gives the name of a company in New York whose telephone line has been disconnected, Cohen said. The boxes containing the watches do not display a brand name and have, "electronically timed," printed on them, she said.