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September 9, 2019Las Vegas, NV, United StatesIntellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud

Las Vegas business owner pleads guilty to trafficking more than $1M in counterfeit electronics

HSI officials say trafficking counterfeit goods is not a victimless crime. There is a variety of criminal activity funded by these illicit monetary gains and the uncertified products place US consumers at risk.

LAS VEGAS ― Saad Ahmed, a Las Vegas businessman, admitted before a U.S. magistrate judge Sept. 5 to conspiracy to traffic counterfeit good, importing counterfeit cellular phone parts and accessories from China for retail to unsuspecting U.S. consumers.

Ahmed, 32, owns and operates PhonePartsUSA, a Las Vegas-based electronics company with customers throughout the United States, including San Diego consumers. He acknowledged conspiring with a variety of individuals in China to import the counterfeit goods to gain illicit profits. Additionally, the charges against Ahmed also allege he grossly undervalued his international imports to deflect U.S. Customs’ attention from his shipments.

“Trafficking counterfeit merchandise hurts legitimate businesses and poses a significant public safety risk as these individuals prey on unsuspecting consumers who believe they are getting name-brand products at a reduced price,” said Francisco Burrola, special agent in charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Nevada.

According to court documents, the conspiracy stretched back to at least September 2012. During this time, PhonePartsUSA trafficked nearly $1.5 million worth of counterfeit goods. The phony merchandise bore trademarks from Samsung, Apple, and the electronic quality certification company UL. However, these items were imitations.

Ahmed agreed to pay $269,681 in restitution to the three trademark holders. This payment reflects the aggregate proceeds earned by Ahmed’s business from trafficking counterfeit merchandise. Ahmed also agreed not to contest the forfeiture of 4,453 cell phone parts and accessories, which were seized from PhonePartsUSA as a result of a HSI Nevada investigation last summer.

“Counterfeit goods confuse and deceive the public, damage legitimate manufacturers, and can even pose a serious risk to consumers’ safety,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “This office and our agency partners will aggressively prosecute anyone who seeks to make a quick illegal profit at the public’s expense.”

“HSI Nevada agents are committed to conducting intellectual property theft investigations that not only protect the companies who have trademarked licensed products, but also the consumers who believe they are buying authentic and/or safe products,” said Burrola.

Ahmed is scheduled to be sentenced on December 9, 2019, before U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan.