FBI Hits Paterson Warehouses in International Auto Parts Counterfeiting Case
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 • 3:15pm
PATERSON, NJ – The FBI raided two warehouses in Paterson Tuesday as part of investigation into an international auto parts counterfeiting ring that operated out New Jersey, Queens and Pennsylvania and got its supplies from China and Saudi Arabia, according to a press release issued by federal authorities.
Investigators in Paterson targeted Worldwide Auto Parts and S&S International Products and Manufacturing on E. 17th Street, which they said was operated by 67-year-old Shashi Malhotra of Norwood, and Cypros Trading and Shipping on Fulton Street, which they said was operated by 28-year-old Fadi Kilani of Englewood.
From October 2011 through February 2013, Malhotra and Kilani conspired to sell counterfeit original equipment manufacturer parts, according to the press release issued by Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and George Venizelos, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Malhotra and Kilani, as well as Richard Dininni of Easton, Pa., were arrested at their homes early Tuesday morning in conjunction with the release of sealed indictments against them.
“As alleged, these defendants sold the automobile replacement parts equivalent of designer knock-offs but represented to their unsuspecting customers that they were buying the ‘name brand,’” Bharara said in a press release. “And while their replacement parts may have been no different from many other generic parts sold every day in the aftermarket, they were able to command the same higher prices charged by the automobile manufacturers’ whose names they stole.’’
“We encourage those who think they may have purchased counterfeit parts from these defendants or from anyone else to call the numbers listed at the end of this release,” Bharara added.
FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos said, “While it is not generally against the law to sell replicas or imitations, it is illegal to try to pass them off as authentic or original. Likewise, there is a legitimate market for aftermarket auto parts, but these defendants allegedly packaged parts to appear to be original manufacturer equipment and sold them as such. That isn’t legitimate; it’s fraud.”
The press release said Malhotra and Kilani deceptively packaged aftermarket automotive parts—including brakes, brake pads, brake shoes, ignition coils, water pumps, window regulators, suspension sway bar links, wheel hubs, anti-lock braking sensors, control arm bushings, transmission filters, pitman arms, tie rod ends, and suspension air springs—to falsely make it appear as though these parts had been manufactured by companies such as Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Federal Mogul.
They then sold these parts to individuals and entities that they understood would re-sell them to the general public and to certain automotive repair shops, including repair shops that service New York City’s taxis and limousines, which are subject to separate and regularly scheduled safety testing by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, the press release said.
Malhotra obtained some of these counterfeit parts from China, and Kilani exported some of these counterfeit parts to Saudi Arabia, according to authorities.
Meanwhile, 57-year-old Dininni conducted his counterfeiting operation through Professional Parts USA in Easton, Pa. according to federal authorities.
Each of the three targets was charged with one count of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, according to the press release.
As the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI identify individuals and entities that may have purchased counterfeit automotive parts from these defendants, both will make appropriate notifications, the press release said. Anyone who believes he may have purchased any counterfeit automotive parts from these defendants or anyone else ought to have his car inspected at an authorized and qualified vehicle inspection facility to determine whether the parts in question are counterfeit, authorities said.
Anyone with questions may call the victim witness hotline for the U.S. Attorney’s Office at (866) 874-8900 or the FBI at (212) 384-2135. Several original equipment manufacturers have also established numbers, which people may call with questions: Ford Motor Company at (313) 337-3663, Federal Mogul at (877) 489-6659, and Chrysler at (855) 818-7612.