California Man, Martin Vellozzi, Charged With Creating And Selling Fake Mercedes-benz Automotive Equipment
MARTIN VELLOZZI, age 56, of Rancho Palos Verdes, California, was charged today in a one-count Bill of Information with mail fraud for his role in creating and selling non-authentic Merceds-Benz diagnostic equipment, announced United States Attorney Dana J. Boente.
According to the Bill of Information, VELLOZZI owned a LMV Industries, which offered technical information and support for Mercedes-Benz automobiles. Between about 2005 and July 2012, VELLOZZI also produced and sold unauthorized and non-authentic versions of the Mercedes-Benz Star Diagnostic System (SDS), a hand-held computer containing proprietary, confidential software. Such diagnostic devices are used by mechanics to identify problems with and assure the safety of motor vehicles employing electronic control systems. By selling non-authentic, unauthorized SDS that bore Mercedes-Benz logos and trademarks, VELLOZZI represented that the SDS he was selling were authentic and authorized by Daimler AG, when, in fact, they were not. The “real” SDS sold for between $8,300 and $22,000 each; VELLOZZI sold the non-authentic SDS, which contained Mercedes-Benz logos and trademarks, for approximately $6,000. The fake devices VELLOZZI sold were manufactured by companies located in Durham, North Carolina and Harahan, Louisiana. On some occasions, when one of the fake SDS units VELLOZZI sold would break, the Harahan-based company would provide fixes or “patches” directly to the customer. VELLOZZI also used cracking software, called “keygens” to “unlock” SDS software and make it work on his unauthorized SDS.
If convicted, VELLOZZI faces a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty (20) years, followed by up to three (3) years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.