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American Honda will, from time to time, place collision industry magazine articles at this site addressing news, issues, and trends that could be of interest to consumers.


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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

NY Counterfeit Airbag Proposal Moves Forward in Senate

The NY Senate Consumer Protection committee has approved a measure that would make it a specific crime to sell fake or non-functional airbags. Lying that a phony airbag is real would also be a crime.

According to the Senate analysis, Senate Bill 5037A adds a new section to the General Business Law (GBL) to address the increasing proliferation of counterfeit and substandard airbags making their way into the New York marketplace.

Sponsored by Senator Lee Zeldin, Chair of the Consumer Protection committee, the bill would make it a class A misdemeanor to knowingly: (a) make, distribute or sell a counterfeit or non-functional airbag; (b) install or reinstall a counterfeit airbag or non-functional airbag; (c) sell, install or reinstall an airbag so that the diagnostic system falsely displays the airbag in proper working order; or (d) represent that a counterfeit or non-functional airbag in a vehicle is not counterfeit or non-functional.

Violators would be subject to fines that range from $1,000 for a single violation up to $250,000 for subsequent, multiple violations. The act would take effect on November 1st after becoming law.

In the Sponsor's Memo, Sen. Zeldin states, "While Federal officials have ramped up their efforts to prevent counterfeit airbags from entering the United States, the practice has become so ubiquitous that counterfeit airbags can be purchased wholesale through websites such as Alibaba.com, and retail through Amazon and eBay. Any legitimate body or repair shop that accesses airbags through these sources clearly understands that this is not original factory equipment."

A search on Alibaba.com quickly confirmed Zeldin's comments. In less than a minute, CollisionWeek was able to find replacement airbags for several makes including Toyota, Lexus, Audi and BMW. The offerings include driver's side airbags for a 2009 Toyota Yaris from Guangzhou, China for as little as $40 each. And Guangzhou Shaen Trade Co., Ltd., a manufacturer in Guangdong, China, offers to supply "High Quality" airbags for Lexus, Toyota and BMW (manufacturer's photo below) in quantities as low as five. The manufacturer boasts a delivery capacity of 10,000 pieces a week.

Counterfeit BMW airbags

The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud supports the NY bill. "Airbags are there to protect us from serious injuries or worse, and we have an expectation that when we get in an auto the airbags will indeed protect us. The use of counterfeit or non-functional airbags puts that expectation in jeopardy," the Coalition told the bill sponsor in a letter.

Just this month, a 25 year-old Vancouver, Washington man pleaded guilty to selling more than 900 counterfeit airbags he had purchased from a source in China. U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan's office said that Vitaliy Yaremkiv could serve between ten months and ten years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for August 23, 2013. Yaremkiv sold at least 964 counterfeit airbags via eBay with a sales total of $137,243.

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