Production and distribution of counterfeit parts continues to soar across a wide range of industries even as arrests and convictions are on the rise. According to Timothy Gifford, SVP and general council secretary at ball bearings company SKF Group, three US government agencies and the government of China are now arresting those who participate in counterfeiting. Counterfeiters are getting nabbed at production facilities in China and at US ports.
At an SKF event in Philadelphia earlier this month, Gifford noted that the Department of Homeland Security, the US Border Patrol, and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement have worked together to net 683 arrests, 454 indictments, and 461 convictions on counterfeiting. Yet the problem persists on a grand scale. Gifford noted the US government recently identified a large counterfeit bearing that sells for $10,000.
Gifford estimates that 99% of all counterfeit parts come from China. He noted, however, that Chinese government officials are working to arrest counterfeiters. “China is helping to crack down on this. Two people in China went to jail for seven years for counterfeiting replacement airbags,” said Gifford. “The airbags blew up into flames and caused deaths in the US.”
Counterfeiting in the industrial sector crosses the line from simple theft to life-threatening criminal activity. “The counterfeit Gucci bag is not going to hurt you, but we found a counterfeit bearing on a windmill,” said Gifford. “What happens when that bearing fails and the blade on the windmill falls off?”
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