Vitality Yaremkiv, of Vancouver, Wash., allegedly sold more than 900 illegally imported counterfeit air bags between June 2011 and June 2012, earning nearly $140,000. An investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI uncovered Yaremkiv's home-based online business operating as Vital Auto Parts and Sales, LLC. Prosecutors say Yaremkiv imported counterfeit Honda, Subaru and Toyota air bags from sources in China, then sold the knockoffs as genuine products at discount prices on eBay. Investigators believe many of the air bags were purchased by independent garages.
"Counterfeit air bags are untested, unregulated, and extremely unsafe," said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of HSI Seattle. "While law enforcement is working to stem the flow of these hazardous products into the U.S., it is important consumers are aware of the danger."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it is critical that vehicle owners work with their automotive dealers and repair professionals to ensure they use the appropriate, original equipment parts in the event they need to replace their air bag. Vehicle owners concerned they may have had a counterfeit air bag installed in their car can visit NHTSA's web site at http://www.safercar.gov.
If convicted, Yaremkiv faces up to 10 years in prison and a $2 million fine. Trial is scheduled to begin May 28. An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington.