FBI nails counterfeit auto parts ring

Three automotive parts suppliers face indictments for selling counterfeit name-brand parts.

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), announced the unsealing of indictments charging three automotive parts suppliers with selling counterfeit replacement parts. The three men—Shashi Malhotra, Fadi Kilani, and Richard Dininni—were arrested at their homes earlier this morning. Malhotra and Kilani will be presented in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein this afternoon. Dininni will be presented in federal court in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, "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.' 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."

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."

New automobiles sold to consumers are equipped with automotive parts that are manufactured or provided by the automobile's manufacturer ("Original Equipment Manufacturer" or "OEM"). When a consumer needs to replace a part in an automobile, he or she can purchase either parts made by OEMs, which are sold under the OEMs' brand names; or generic parts made by other manufacturers that are commonly referred to as "aftermarket" parts. Generic parts are regularly bought and sold lawfully as aftermarket parts, typically at lower prices than OEM parts. Many types of aftermarket parts—including those sold and falsely packaged as OEM parts by Malhotra, Kilani, and Dininni—do not have to meet independent federal safety standards.

From October 2011 through February 2013, Malhotra, who operated Worldwide Auto Parts and S&S International Products and Manufacturing in Paterson, New Jersey, and Kilani, who operated Cypros Trading and Shipping in Paterson, New Jersey, conspired to sell counterfeit OEM parts. Specifically, the defendants and their co-conspirators deceptively packaged and caused to be packaged certain 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 OEMs such as Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Federal Mogul (the "manufacturers").

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