Los Angeles takes legal action to close stores selling counterfeits

Los Angeles has taken steps to emphasise that counterfeiters are not going to get away with duping the public with dangerous fake goods.

The move comes in the form of civil lawsuits against the owners of two electronics stores for allegedly selling counterfeit Apple and Samsung phone chargers and other smartphone accessories, the city Attorney Mike Feuer (pictured) announced.

The lawsuits follow an undercover investigation that seized more than 15,000 fake phone accessories from the two stores back in January.

Feuer said that civil lawsuits, rather than pursuing criminal charges, could result in getting a court order to close down the businesses and to stop them trading.

“We have the possibility of shutting down the business altogether, and that is what the aspiration is here.”

The store owners slapped with the legal action are Wei Liang Huang and his Los Angeles business Amco Wireless, and Hicham Ofir and the business Ofir Cell Phone Accessories. There have been no comments or responses from the defendants in regards to the litigation.

An investigation, conducted in conjunction with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s Counterfeit and Piracy Enforcement Team, followed concerns that fake smartphone devices could be a hazard to the public.

The operation involved investigators making secret shopper purchases at the two stores between June and December last year, which resulted in a raid in January.

Officers seized more than 15,000 bogus accessories in total, including 4,279 fake items from Amco Wireless and 10,798 knockoffs from Ofir Cell Phone Accessories.

Products included fake Apple and Samsung-branded accessories and counterfeit iBeats by Dr. Dre earbuds.

Feuer said the retail value of the stash totalled more than $250,000.

In a press conference announcing the lawsuits, Feuer noted the danger to the public that counterfeit phone accessories had. “Counterfeit chargers can cause shock, can cause fire,” he said.

As evidence, he cited research by product testing firm Underwriters Laboratories, which had tested 400 fake iPhone power adaptors and found all but three failed basic safety tests. “Twelve were so poorly constructed and designed that they posed an imminent and lethal electrocution risk if used,” Feuer said.

An Apple investigation last year found that almost 90 per cent of Apple-branded iPhone chargers and accessories on e-commerce platform Amazon were fakes.

And earlier this year, an OECD report revealed that around one in five mobile phones shipped internationally are counterfeit, with smartphone batteries, chargers and memory cards also “increasingly falling prey to counterfeiters”.

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