US woman pleads guilty to $80m fake cell phone part scam

A Missouri woman has pleaded guilty to selling more than $80m-worth of counterfeit cell phone components.

Sherrie Householder (59) admitted selling the parts over the Internet and via a retail store in Springfield, Missouri through a company called Flash Technology LLC business. She pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, one count of money laundering and one count of tax evasion.

Householder admitted that she received more than $80m from the sale of counterfeit items over approximately three years, from December 3, 2012, to January 14, 2016.

Flash Tech - which was owned by Chinese citizen Wang "Frank" Lou - sold cell phone components such as replacement screens, lithium batteries, weight scales, phone cases and internal circuitry. Householder managed the company's affairs in the US, and continued to supply parts even after federal agents advised her that they were counterfeit.

The business claimed that the components were manufactured by legitimate companies – including Apple, Samsung, LG, Microsoft, Android, Dell, Blackberry, ASUS, Acer, Kindle, HTC, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, ZTE and others, according to a Department of Justice statement.

However, "although each part contained trademarks and markings that made it appear the legitimate holder of the trademark had manufactured the parts - and although Householder used the trademarks and logos of these companies on her websites - the components were actually counterfeit," it added.

All of the items shipped from Lou to Householder and inspected by federal agents were determined to be counterfeit, said the DoJ. The full statement can be viewed here.

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