Fair Trading authorities have raided a string of dodgy resellers across New South Wales, seizing thousands of unapproved and counterfeit products, including fake USB phone chargers.
In revealing the outcome of recent captures across the state, NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe confirmed that at one premises in particular, as many as 4,573 items were found and have been seized.
Stowe said samples examined and confiscated on site were “unapproved and potentially dangerous” USB phone chargers, including counterfeit well-known brand products Apple, LG, Samsung, Huawei and Motorola.
While some of the chargers confiscated were not branded but styled on a branded product, Stowe said a number of the items seized were labelled with a false approval number.
In addition to the electrical items seized at the premises, 6,657 non-authentic branded items were seized, including mobile device batteries, leads and accessories.
“Some of the chargers in the shipment featured an incorrect approval number and some had inferior components and circuitry,” Stowe said.
At another premises, Stowe said the execution of a search warrant resulted in the seizure of hundreds of chargers, cables, adapters and unauthentic branded mobile device batteries - those batteries were branded with Samsung and Apple logos.
The Commissioner said that while the task of protecting the public from “cheap, imported, unapproved products” remains a challenge for regulators, these successful operations were a “tangible demonstration” of Fair Trading’s resolve in carrying out this crucial role.
“The raids were initiated after Australian Border Force (ABF) officers intercepted a shipment of suspected counterfeit USB phone chargers earlier this year and referred the matter to NSW Fair Trading to check compliance with electrical safety standards,” Stowe said.
“The shipment was abandoned by the importer, who is now under investigation by Fair Trading.”
Stowe said the NSW Electricty (Consumer Safety) Act 2004 requires the testing, approval and marking of declared electrical articles prior to sale.
“The public need to be vigilant about their safety and check USB phone chargers for approval marks,” he added.
“Retailers should not be selling unapproved products and consumers should avoid buying them by being careful in their purchases.
“Avoid the cheap deal - there is a reason it is cheap. Cheap and unapproved electrical products pose a serious health hazard and are a false economy.”
Stowe said all electrical products sold in NSW must comply with the Act and its regulations to ensure they are designed and manufactured to meet Australian Standards.
Penalties for selling unapproved products include prosecutions with maximum penalties of up to $55,000 for an individual and $550,000 for a corporation, for a first offence.
Current legislation states that it is an offence under s.16 of the Electricity (Consumer Safety) Act 2004 to sell an unapproved electrical article with penalties for selling unapproved products including prosecutions with maximum penalties up to $55,000 and/or two years imprisonment for an individual and $550,000 for a corporation.
Furthermore, it is an offence under s.151 of the Australian Consumer Law (Competition and Consumer Act) 2010 to make a false representation that goods or services have sponsorship, approval, performance characteristics, accessories uses or benefits. It is an offence under s.194 of the Australian Consumer Law (Competition and Consumer Act) 2010 to supply consumer goods that do not comply with safety standards.
Penalties for both include prosecutions with maximum penalties of $1,100,000 for a body corporate and $220,000 for an individual, for a first offence.
Stowe said inspections at markets and stores will continue and he urged the public to protect themselves by helping regulators identify non-compliant products.
“Anyone with information about the purchase or sale of unapproved and non-compliant products should contact Fair Trading on 13 32 20,” he added.