Europol supports international investigation on counterfeit electronics

03 July 2015
Press Release
Press Release/News

This News/Press release is about Money Laundering

View all crime areas

Four individuals arrested last week were arraigned on 1 July in Newark, New Jersey, based on charges for allegedly smuggling counterfeit Sony Camcorders, Apple iPhones, iPads and iPods, from China for sale in the United States.

The individuals, Italian, Venezuelan and Chinese nationals aged between 30 and 52 years, are charged in an eight-count indictment with importing and trafficking fake iPhones, iPads and iPods bearing counterfeit Apple trademarks and fake Camcorders bearing counterfeit Sony trademarks, as well as smuggling, structuring and international money laundering.

Europol supported the case, which was investigated by the : U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Newark, New Jersey and the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office White Collar Crimes Squad, with significant assistance from Italian law enforcement authorities.

According to the allegations in the indictment, from July 2009 through February 2014, the defendants conspired to smuggle into the U.S. from China over 40,000 electronic devices and accessories, including fake iPads, iPhones and iPods, along with labels and packaging, most bearing counterfeit Apple trademarks. The indictment alleges that the estimated manufacturers' suggested retail prices for an equivalent number of genuine items would have exceeded $15,000,000.

The indictment alleges that, to avoid detection by U.S. Customs officials, the devices often were shipped separately from the labels bearing counterfeit trademarks, and then were labelled and packaged after they passed through Customs. According to the indictment, the individuals then re-shipped the devices throughout the U.S. to co-conspirators.

According to the indictment, proceeds from the sales of the devices were funnelled back to the defendants' accounts in Florida and New Jersey via structured cash deposits – broken into multiple deposits of less than $10,000 each to avoid bank reporting requirements. The indictment further alleges that a portion of the proceeds was then transferred to co-conspirators in Italy, further disguising the source of the funds.

According to the indictment, the individuals made more than 100 illegal wire transfers totalling over $1,100,000 to Chinese accounts to facilitate their criminal activity.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.