NEW YORK—The FBI announced Tuesday it busted a replacement car parts counterfeit ring, which sold fake items made in China and Saudi Arabia labeled as well-known brands. Raids were carried out in New Jersey and Queens.
Many taxi operators purchased the counterfeit parts and many cabs are likely still driving around with them, officials said. Many city limousines also purchased the counterfeit goods.
“These defendants sold the automobile replacement parts equivalent of designer knock-offs, but represented to their unsuspecting customers that they were buying the ‘name brand,’” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement.
He added: “And while their replacement parts may have been no different from many other generic parts sold every day in the aftermarket, they were able to command the same higher prices charged by the automobile manufacturers’ whose names they stole.”
The three alleged perpetrators, Shashi Malhotra, Fadi Kilani, and Richard Dininniwere, were arrested at their homes on Tuesday morning, the FBI said.
Malhotra and Kilani operated legitimate parts-trading companies in New Jersey, but conspired to sell counterfeit Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts, the FBI statement said. Dininni also operated a parts company in Pennsylvania and conspired to sell fake OEM parts.
Some of these fake OEM part brands say they were manufactured by Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Federal Mogul, the FBI said.
“While it is not generally against the law to sell replicas or imitations, it is illegal to try to pass them off as authentic or original,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos in a statement. “Likewise, there is a legitimate market for aftermarket auto parts, but these defendants allegedly packaged parts to appear to be original manufacturer equipment and sold them as such.”
Venizelos said, “That isn’t legitimate; it’s fraud.”
Officials told ABC-7 television that one of the raids was carried out in Queens. The FBI plans on staying at the Queens location for days to document all the replacement parts found there.
More than 50 agents were deployed to 35th Avenue where they found boxes of brake pads, batteries, and other replacement parts.
David Yassky with the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission stressed there is no cause for worry.
“The public may remain confident in the safety of New York City taxicabs by virtue of the frequent and exhaustive inspections they each undergo at the TLC’s own state-of-the-art facility, but successfully keeping counterfeiters like these at bay is crucial,” Yassky told ABC.
Those who believe they purchased the counterfeit parts are encouraged to call the FBI’s office or the New York U.S. Attorney’s office.
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 21 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.