A La Puente man faces up to 22 years in federal prison for his role in a scheme to manufacture and ship counterfeit lithium-ion batteries for laptops and cell phones from China to the United States, officials said Tuesday.
The batteries were sold on eBay and Amazon as genuine batteries from companies such as Apple, Dell, Samsung, Toshiba and Hewlett-Packard.
Zoulin Cai, who is also known as Allen Cai or Lin Cai, pleaded guilty Tuesday, June 29, to aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement. The 29-year-old will be sentenced on Oct. 4.
From March 5, 2014 through June 20, 2019, Cai and his accomplices fraudulently obtained at least $3.5 million and as much as $23,831,668.78 from the sale of laptop batteries through eBay and Amazon, according to court documents. In the same time period, he and the others sent about $18,094,960 through wire transfers from bank accounts in the U.S. to Chinese bank accounts.
Cai conspired to import batteries, labels for batteries in laptop computers, cellphones, and other electronics from China to the United States. He then sold and shipped the counterfeit batteries to unsuspecting buyers, federal authorities said.