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Fake airbags - the police investigate

Fake airbags is a particularly nasty idea - the buyer doesn't know it's fake until it's too late!

The City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) recently charged a UK-based resident for selling counterfeit airbags online.

PIPCU launched an investigation in January last year following a referral from Honda Motor Europe, which identified that counterfeit airbags had been sold on eBay. In February last year, PIPCU arrested a man and the police seized fake airbags from several car manufacturers.

The man was said to have operated under a number of usernames on eBay. PIPCU added that the counterfeit airbags had been on sale since September 2013 for approximately £170, which is half the price of a genuine airbag.

Over 680 people have been identified by detectives who were believed to have bought counterfeit and dangerous airbags and airbag covers from an individual who sold them on eBay. Every individual has been advised to make contact with their local dealership immediately so that their vehicle receives the necessary checks to ensure it is safe.

Detailed factory analysis of the airbags was immediately commenced at Honda’s UK headquarters in liaison with PIPCU. It was confirmed that the airbags were counterfeit and that they would not deploy as a genuine airbag would on collision, presenting a clear danger to the public.

This comes at a time when the insurance industry is getting ready to launch its new Code of Practice which we believe still fails to allow the use of tested used airbags. We all know airbags are an expensive item which is why someone can get away for so long with selling fakes for £170. The recognition that a tested 2nd use airbag is as fully effective as a new unit could go a long way to discouraging the fakers.

We understand the manufacturers’ need to sell new parts as an integral part of their business model but individuals who are driven to buy these ‘bargains’ are not only unaware that they won’t work at a time when you need them most, but they cannot afford to pay the full retail price.

Tested used units fill this need; so come on insurance industry, take a common sense approach. We know MVDA did extensive testing and commissioned an independent study a few years back which demonstrated that a used unit is just as effective as a new one.

Views of readers always welcome.

April 2017

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