A Vancouver, Wash. man who imported and sold hundreds of counterfeit vehicle airbags on eBay and Craigslist, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to six months in prison, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.
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. These counterfeit airbags can be extremely dangerous and during testing have been known to catch fire, spew hazardous debris, and separate completely from the vehicle. U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton imposed three years of supervised release.
According to the statement of facts in 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 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. YAREMKIV has agreed to pay restitution of $137,243 to Honda Motors Corporation and Toyota Motors Corporation.
In asking for a prison sentence, prosecutors wrote to the court, “The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has tested some counterfeit airbags resulting in alarming failures. Driving a car equipped with a counterfeit airbag may be more dangerous than driving a car with no airbag at all in light of the potential for explosive shrapnel being thrown at the driver or passenger whose airbag fails…..While law enforcement has seized some of these airbags and has continued to attempt to identify others that entered the stream of commerce, identifying vehicles that are equipped with Mr. Yaremkiv’s airbags in the used (and often salvage) car market is extremely difficult. Some may continue to be installed in cars used on a daily basis for an indefinite amount of time presenting a continued risk of injury to unwary used car buyers.”
The case was investigated by the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Norman Barbosa.