LOS ANGELES – City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced that his office has filed two civil lawsuits seeking injunctions against downtown electronics merchants allegedly selling counterfeit cell phone chargers, cables and phone cases. Undercover officers recovered over 15,000 items with a retail value of over $250,000. Counterfeit electronic products pose a fire and shock risk to consumers and have a 99% failure rate.
"Counterfeit electronics, like phone chargers, pose a significant shock and fire hazard and the overwhelming majority of them don’t work," said Feuer. "With the holiday season fast approaching, my office is continuing to take decisive action against businesses that violate trademark laws, sell dangerous counterfeit products and put consumers at risk."
"The Sheriff's Department’s Counterfeit and Piracy Enforcement Team investigates cases involving counterfeit products," said Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell. "In this case, the Sheriff’s Department was particularly concerned these products did not meet safety standards and could result in a shock and fire hazard. The investigation highlights the collaboration between agencies to ensure the public is not exposed to dangerous counterfeit products."
"Many of the products discovered in this investigation contained counterfeit UL Marks," said Kevin Olive, UL’s Investigations Manager. "UL's certification marks are symbols of trust, integrity and safety, signaling that the product has been tested to protect against fire hazards, risk of electrocution and other safety risks. Products bearing a counterfeit UL Mark provide a false sense of security to consumers because these items are often poor quality, shoddy and sometimes very dangerous."
The lawsuits seek an injunction against two downtown electronics merchants: Wei Liang Huang, and his business Amco Wireless, as well as Hicham Ofir, and his business Ofir Cell Phone Accessories, working in any business where cellular phones and accessories are sold. The lawsuit also seeks $2,500 in penalties for each violation during the four year statute of limitations.
Undercover Sheriff and private investigators made purchases at Amco Wireless, located at 443 S. Los Angeles Street, on three separate occasions between June and December 2016. A search warrant was executed on January 5, 2017 resulting in the recovery of 4,279 counterfeit items including 3,279 counterfeit Apple wall chargers and cables; 57 cell phone travel adaptors with counterfeit Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certification marks; 638 counterfeit OtterBox Phone cases and 99 LifeProof cell phone cases.
Undercover purchases were also made at Ofir Cell Phone Accessories, located at 39 E. 5th Street, on three separate occasions between June and December 2016. A search warrant was executed on January 5, 2017 resulting in the recovery of 10,798 counterfeit items both at the store and a secondary storage location. Recovered counterfeit items included counterfeit Apple wall adaptors; Apple lightning USB cables; iBeats by Dr. Dre earbuds as well as travel adaptors.
In 2016, UL researches tested 400 counterfeit iPhone power adaptors from around the world including Los Angeles. All but three were determined to be a significant fire and shock hazard. Twelve were so poorly designed and constructed that they posed a risk of lethal electrocution to the user. The overall failure rate for the counterfeit products was 99%.
Deputy City Attorney Kevin Gilligan of the City Attorney’s Anti-Counterfeit Enforcement Program is handling the litigation.