LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A 28-year-old Chinese man who lives in La Puente was arrested by federal authorities Thursday on allegations he sold $23.8 million worth of counterfeit laptop batteries online — on websites such as a Amazon and eBay — over a period of several years.
Zoulin Cai, who also went by the name Allen Cai, was taken into custody at his La Puente home on one federal count each of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and labels, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Cai sold the fake batteries over eBay and Amazon by falsely advertising them under brand-name companies such as Apple, Dell, HP and Toshiba.
Beginning in 2012, he worked for a China-based company run by his relatives called Thesues Technology which manufactured these counterfeit lithium-ion batteries, prosecutors said.
Fake lithium-ion laptop batteries can overheat, cause fires or even explosions, the Justice Department said.
The batteries were shipped out of several warehouses in La Puente and the City of Industry between 2014 and June of 2019, prosecutors allege, bringing in $23.8 million in revenue over that time for Cai and his associates. More than $18 million of that was then laundered through Chinese bank accounts under the guise of Thesus Technology and other Chinese businesses, the Justice Department said.
Cai used some of the money he made to lease a Maserati.
He faces a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison if convicted as charged.