Washington Man Sentenced to Six Months in Prison for Selling Counterfeit Airbags
Update — September 30, 2013
A Vancouver, Washington man who imported and sold hundreds of counterfeit vehicle airbags on eBay and Craigslist, was sentenced to six months in prison and three years of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton. Vitaliy Yaremkiv, 25, pleaded guilty in May 2013 to conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods. Yaremkiv sold approximately 960 counterfeit vehicle airbags that he imported from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Counterfeit airbags can be extremely dangerous. During testing they have been known to catch fire and eject hazardous debris.
According to the plea agreement, Yaremkiv operated a business, Vital Auto Parts and Sales, out of his Vancouver home. He allegedly imported counterfeit Honda, Subaru, and Toyota airbags and sold them over the Internet representing them as the genuine product. Yaremkiv sold at least 964 counterfeit airbags on eBay with a total of $137,243. Investigators believe that many of the airbags were sold to independent garages who, believing they had purchased a genuine airbag, installed them in vehicles.
A 25 year-old Vancouver, Washington man was arrested earlier this week on a four-count indictment charging him with trafficking in counterfeit goods, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. VITALIY YAREMKIV, was arrested April 2, 2013 and will have a detention hearing today at 3:15 PM in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. Prosecutors allege that between June 2011 and June 2012, YAREMKIV sold more than 900 counterfeit vehicle airbags he had purchased from a source in China. If convicted, YAREMKIV faces up to ten years in prison and a $2 million fine. Trial in the case is scheduled for May 28, 2013 in front of U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton.
“Counterfeit airbags shred the safety systems built into our cars, which could cause catastrophic results. Counterfeit airbags may fail to deploy in crashes, or deploy in a ball of fire,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “I commend the investigation by the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations to stem the flow of these counterfeits to get them out of our cars and marketplace.”
According to the indictment, YAREMKIV operated a business, Vital Auto Parts and Sales, out of his Vancouver home. He allegedly imported counterfeit Honda, Subaru and Toyota airbags from sources in China and elsewhere, and sold them over the internet representing them as the genuine product. YAREMKIV sold at least 964 of the counterfeit airbags via eBay with a sales total of $137,243. YAREMKIV sold individual Honda airbags for an asking price of $110. Investigators believe that many of the airbags are sold to independent garages who install them in vehicles believing they have purchased a genuine airbag.
“Counterfeit air bags are untested, unregulated, and extremely unsafe,” said Brad Bench, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Seattle. “While law enforcement is working to stem the flow of these dangerous products into the U.S., it’s important that consumers are aware of this danger. Automobile safety experts say it’s critical that vehicle owners work with their automotive dealers and repair professionals to ensure they use the appropriate, original equipment parts in the event they need to replace their air bag.”
“Every day, people entrust their lives to safety devices because they have been thoroughly researched, rigorously tested, and carefully constructed,” said FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Carlos L. Mojica. “Counterfeit devices do not carry that same guarantee, threatening the lives of unknowing users and violating their trust. The FBI and its partners will continue to seek and stop those like Mr. Yaremkiv, who irresponsibly put innocent lives at risk for their personal, financial gain.”
Owners of Honda and Acura vehicles who are concerned about the genuine status of their vehicle's airbags should contact Honda Automobile Customer Service at (800) 999-1009, or Acura Client Relations at (800) 382-2238.
The case was investigated by the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Norman Barbosa.