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Friday, October 26, 2012

Alleged Trafficker of Counterfeit Automotive Accessories Indicted in Virginia

WASHINGTON – An alleged trafficker of counterfeit automotive accessories was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia for allegedly participating in a conspiracy to sell to unsuspecting U.S. consumers more than $3 million worth of counterfeit General Motors (GM) and Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) automotive diagnostic devices and other automotive equipment, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride, Assistant Director Ronald T. Hosko of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division and FBI Atlanta Special Agent In Charge Mark Guiliano announced today.

Katiran Lee, 39, an Indonesian national who allegedly sold the counterfeit goods while he was living in Duluth, Ga., was charged with two counts of trafficking in counterfeit goods, four counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to the indictment, from August 2008 through December 2011, Lee conspired with manufacturers in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to sell automotive diagnostic devices bearing counterfeit GM and BMW marks to consumers in the United States.  Such diagnostic devices are used by mechanics to identify problems with and assure the safety of motor vehicles employing electronic control systems.  Lee allegedly advertised and sold the diagnostic devices on eBay and through his own website, and had the PRC manufacturers send counterfeit devices bearing unauthorized GM and BMW marks directly to his customers.
According to the indictment, during this same period, Lee also advertised and sold over 35,000 counterfeit programmed keys and key fobs for vehicles produced by GM, BMW and numerous other automotive manufacturers, including Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, Audi, Mercedes Benz, Ford, Infiniti, Land Rover, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot, Renault, Subaru, Suzuki, and Volkswagen.  Lee allegedly programmed the keys himself and affixed counterfeit marks to deceive consumers into believing that the products came from the respective automotive manufacturers.

In the indictment, the government is seeking forfeiture of computers, programming equipment and thousands of blank keys and trademarked automotive emblems recovered during a search of Lee’s home on Feb. 22, 2012, and the forfeiture of properties totaling up to $600,000.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Evan Williams of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay Kelly of the Eastern District of Virginia and was investigated by the FBI’s Intellectual Property Rights Unit as part of “Operation Engine Newity,” an international initiative targeting the production and distribution of counterfeit automotive products that impact the safety of the consumer, and FBI Atlanta.

The FBI is a full partner at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center).  The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government’s key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. The IPR Center uses the expertise of its 19 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property (IP) theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public’s health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters. To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit www.IPRCenter.gov.

The enforcement action announced today is one of many efforts being undertaken by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force). Attorney General Eric Holder created the IP Task Force to combat the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes, protect the health and safety of American consumers, and safeguard the nation’s economic security against those who seek to profit illegally from American creativity, innovation, and hard work. The IP Task Force seeks to strengthen intellectual property rights protection through heightened criminal and civil enforcement, greater coordination among federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, and increased focus on international enforcement efforts, including reinforcing relationships with key foreign partners and U.S. industry leaders. To learn more about the IP Task Force, go to www.justice.gov/dag/iptaskforce/.

Press Release Number: 
Updated September 15, 2014