Investigators seize hundreds of bogus cell phones, parts, auto manuals at Raleigh home

rgallagher@newsobserver.comJuly 9, 2013 

— Investigators from the Secretary of State’s office seized 10 counterfeit Apple iPhones, 171 fake Samsung phones and hundreds of phone parts and counterfeit automobile service manuals from a Raleigh home after federal agents intercepted a box of counterfeit materials being sent there from China, according to a search warrant made public Monday.

In applying for the warrant, Special Agent in Charge John M. Lynch said Amrit Singh Narula, who lives at 1310 Wake Forest Road, admitted during an interview at the duplex house that he had ordered the package’s 400 counterfeit iPhone covers and 10 galaxy 3 phones from a supplier in China in connection with a phone-repair and sales business he operated through the Craigslist classified-ad website and through eBay.

There was no record of Narula being charged under state law, though Lynch wrote, “I believe probable cause exists that Mr. Narula is engaged in ongoing violations” of the section of North Carolina law that makes it a crime to use a counterfeit trademark.

Lynch and another agent, Renee Davis, went to Narula’s home on May 14, a day after federal Homeland Security agents had looked in the package, he told a Wake County court magistrate in asking for the search warrant that afternoon.

Narula, Lynch wrote, “admitted to ordering the counterfeit phones and parts from suppliers in China,” Lynch attested in the application.

Based on what he saw at the house when he interviewed Narula and what Narula told him, Lynch said, “the residence at 1310 Wake Forest Road house a business operation involving the importation and sale of cell phone items that bear the counterfeit trademarks of Apple iPhone and other trademark holders.

In addition to cases and boxes for iPhones, Samsung phones, Motorola phones and Blackberry phones, the inventory of items seized with the warrant included CDs onto which had been copied 110 Honda service manuals, 17 BMW manuals, 23 Subaru manuals, 37 Toyota manuals and ones for Audi, Ferrari, Yamaha and Mitsubishi vehicles.

Narula said he had been selling those items online for about a decade, Lynch wrote.

The case has similarities to a March raid in which agents from Lynch’s office seized hundreds of counterfeit rifle parts from a Cary home after opening a package being shipped there from China.

“The top priority is to shut down pipelines” for counterfeit goods, George Jeter, a spokesman for Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, said Tuesday.

“Anything can be brought in” once a route has been established, Jeter said, so authorities focus on interrupting those more than on making arrests.

“Almost all trademark cases” are joint investigations by federal, state and local law enforcement, Jeter added, and whether anyone is charged and in what jurisdiction “depends on the exact circumstances” of each case.

Gallagher 919-829-4572

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