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19 February 2021

Investigation Uncovers Counterfeit Conspiracy

An investigation by Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) initiative Genuine is Best has revealed that dangerous counterfeit car parts are arriving in Australia, concealed in shipments of parallel and aftermarket vehicle parts.

More than one in two (62 per cent) of the parts purchased in a Test Buy Program were found to be counterfeit.

The investigations tested purchase batches from six separate import suppliers, selling car parts to the collision repair or mechanic trade, or directly to the public.

Intermingled with parallel and aftermarket parts, the counterfeits required examination by brand protection experts to determine they were fraudulent. The 28 individual counterfeit parts identified included oil filters, air filters, spark plugs, vehicle grilles and keys.

Each importer of the parts has been alerted by brand owners to the presence of counterfeit parts in their batches and advised to alert customers and cease import immediately.

It is yet to be determined if the importers are knowingly complicit. Ongoing legal proceedings preclude the disclosure of the supplier’s identities.

Online listings of fakes continue to flourish. FCAI Genuine is Best member Toyota Australia reports seeking the take down of as many as 1,200 listings per month to protect drivers from counterfeits.

FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber said the discovery was unwelcome but not unexpected.

“Each of these shipments imported a part that could ruin your day,” he said.

“The fact they were carefully concealed among other non-genuine parts indicates the level of deception these criminals are going to, just to hoodwink honest drivers who think they’re getting the real deal.

“We’re talking about low quality, criminally manufactured and distributed parts designed to deceive. We’ve done the testing, and we know these counterfeits will at best leave you with major repair bills.

“My message – be aware of the parts being fitted to your car. Get your car serviced by your local dealer. They will always use genuine parts. If you go independent, ask the question: Will you use genuine parts, and can I see the receipts please,” Mr Weber said.

Counterfeit spark plugs capable of causing massive engine damage were the most recent part added to the list of fakes encountered by FCAI initiative Genuine is Best.

Other dangerous parts include counterfeit oil filters that do not filter oil, wheels that shatter in low-speed pothole impacts, brake components containing asbestos and in one case, brake pads made of compressed grass clippings.

Vehicle owners concerned they have been sold a counterfeit vehicle part can lodge a report on the FCAI’s Genuine is Best website at https://genuineisbest.com.au/reportsuspicious-parts/  

All reports are investigated by the appropriate brand and, if relevant, shared with IP enforcement officers at the Department of Home Affairs.

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