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14 February 2022

Drivers Sold Cars with Counterfeit Airbags

In a disturbing story coming out of Philadelphia in the USA, a man has been arrested for importing and installing counterfeit airbags and reselling the vehicles to unsuspecting drivers.

The charges allege that for a minimum of two years, Emiliano Rodriguez, 44, imported counterfeit airbags from China to the US by fraudulent means. Once landed, the counterfeit airbags were installed in salvaged vehicles and resold to the consumer market.

Compromising public safety for personal gain, the international nature of the crime represents a local risk, that should place Australian drivers on alert.

Over 450 counterfeit airbags and associated parts were seized from the accused’s home and business. The danger goes beyond drivers, their passengers and other road users. Airbags contain explosives, and the accused shipped them illegally via airfreight.

If convicted, Rodriguez faces a maximum 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, fines of $2,050,000, and a $200 special assessment.

The US Department of Justice summarises the indictment here.

“Counterfeit airbags pose real dangers to unsuspecting members of the public. The risks of counterfeit and substandard auto parts are known by those who work in the automotive industry,” said William S. Walker, Acting Special Agent in Charge of HSI Philadelphia.

“Yet, Rodriquez, an auto mechanic, allegedly outfitted salvaged automobiles with counterfeit airbags imported from China and reintroduced those vehicles back into the consumer market, thereby putting lives at risk in the interest of making a profit. This investigation is yet another reminder of the risks posed by counterfeit goods. As result of this case, Rodriquez will now face justice for his alleged role in this scheme.”

“Illegally transporting potentially hazardous goods puts our transportation system at risk. When those goods are also counterfeit, the risk can be even greater,” said Joseph Harris, Special Agent-in-Charge, Northeast Region, U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General.

“Together with our law enforcement and prosecutorial colleagues, we remain committed to pursuing those who would compromise public safety for personal gain.”

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