LOS ANGELES – City Attorney Mike Feuer announced today that his office has successfully secured permanent injunctions and civil penalties against two downtown electronics merchants for selling counterfeit cell phone chargers, cables and phone cases. Undercover officers and investigators recovered nearly 15,000 items with a retail value of over $250,000. Counterfeit electronic products tested were found to pose a fire and shock risk to consumers, with a 99% failure rate.
"Counterfeit electronics, including phone chargers, pose a significant shock and fire hazard—and the overwhelming majority of them don’t work properly," said Feuer. "We will continue to protect consumers from dangerous fake goods, and commend our partners at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and electronics safety tester UL (Underwriters Laboratories) for collaborating to stop these businesses from selling counterfeit products."
"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," said UL Vice President and Chief Security Officer Brian Monks. "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. UL takes the threat of counterfeiting very seriously and devotes significant resources to fighting it; this includes working with law enforcement officials to identify and remove counterfeit products from the marketplace that can pose serious risk to the public. UL would like to graciously thank the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office for their hard work and successful outcome to these two investigations."
The two downtown electronics merchants, Wei Liang Huang and Hicham Ofir, were each found to be in violation of the Unfair Competition Law and trademark infringement for selling counterfeit goods. Huang and Ofir were consequently placed under a 10-year injunction prohibiting future sales of counterfeit goods and restricting their future business activities. The defendants, who had no prior criminal records, were also ordered to pay $10,000 each in civil penalties. An additional $60,000 in civil penalties was suspended by the court should the defendants commit another violation or fail to comply with the terms of the 10-year injunction.
Defendant Huang has subsequently sold his downtown business, and is no longer operating in Los Angeles. Defendant Ofir’s business, Ofir Cell Phone Accessories, continues to operate in Los Angeles, but is now subject to warrantless search and seizure by law enforcement. Defendants Ofir and Huang are now required to notify the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office in writing if they wish to open any business in the state of California. Any future businesses opened by either defendant in the state of California would be subject to warrantless search and seizure by law enforcement for the duration of the injunction.
Undercover sheriff’s deputies and private investigators made purchases at Amco Wireless, located at 443 S. Los Angeles Street, on three separate occasions between June and December of 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 adapters with counterfeit 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 of 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 adapters, Apple lightning USB cables, Beats by Dr. Dre iBeats earbuds, as well as travel adapters.
In 2016, UL researchers tested 400 counterfeit iPhone power adapters from cities 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.
Deputy City Attorney Kevin Gilligan of the City Attorney’s Anti-Counterfeit Enforcement Program successfully handled the litigation.