U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Chicago have prevented a flood of knock-off hoverboards from hitting the open market in the largest seizure of counterfeit hoverboards in the country.
So far officials have processed 16,000 counterfeit hoverboards shipped or flown from China to Chicago in the past month and a half. They said there could be as many 42,000 fakes currently sitting in two government facilities located near O’Hare International Airport.
Officials said the seized hoverboards are poorly-made and could catch fire.
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“If you keep it plugged-in, the unit will continue to charge the battery and overcharge it, which could cause the explosions and fires,” said Chicago CBP Director of Field Operations William Ferrara.
Customs officials said the average counterfeit hoverboard lists for about $400. They estimate the value of the counterfeits in Chicago to total $10 million.
“When something isn't legitimate, it's also our mission to stop that from entering the commerce and hurting buyers and users of the product,” Ferrara said.
Hoverboards were the “must-have” gift of the holidays, but the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating at least 40 reports of hoverboard fires in 19 states.
“We are opening up new investigations as soon as we receive reports of new incidents,” said CPSC press secretary Patty Davis.
Nancy Cowles of Kids in Danger said the government needs to issue recalls.
“When we know there are products that have caught fire in people's homes, there's no reason for those to remain on the market,” Cowles said.
Customs officials in Chicago said smugglers must have gotten the message because most of the shipments of counterfeit hoverboards have stopped.
All of the knock-off hoverboards in Chicago are expected to be destroyed.