99% of Fake iPhone Chargers Sold Online Failed

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With the holiday season nearly upon us again, a lot of consumer electronics gear will once again be popular and, once again as well, consumers will be looking for a way to save money when purchasing electronic gifts.

One dangerous way to do that is to buy a counterfeit power adapter (charger) that does not meet minimum safety standards and, like all crooks, counterfeiters go where the money is to make their ill-gotten gains. One manufacturer that attracts a mountain of counterfeited phone chargers is Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), arguably the most successful maker of smartphones in the world.

In a study last year of counterfeit chargers, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) estimated global sales of external power adapters, including iPhone chargers, generates more than $8 billion in sales. Legitimate chargers cost $20 to $25 apiece while fakes can cost less than $5.

When UL tested 400 iPhone chargers last year, 397 failed. The fakes were available all over the world.

The Counterfeit Report, a consumer advocate and industry watchdog, purchased dozens of chargers on Amazon, eBay, and AliExpress and all were counterfeit. According to the Report, Apple itself has been buying Apple chargers and cables labeled as genuine directly from Amazon and found nearly 90% of them to be counterfeit.

How serious can this be? Here’s a case reported by UL:

Within the past few years, several highly publicized electrocution deaths have been linked to counterfeit/infringing iPhone adapters. For example, in 2013, a man from Thailand was found dead holding his Apple iPhone plugged into a wall outlet. An investigation conducted by Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) later concluded that the adapter was not produced by Apple and was improperly shielded or grounded.

Both The Counterfeit Report and UL’s white paper on fake iPhone adapters have tips on how to identify fakes.