Can marketing counterfeit versions of Sponge Bob Square Pants (actual cartoon at right) and Dora the Explorer filled with lead, other dangerous chemicals and choking hazards to children make you rich?
Yes, boys and girls, it sure can.
The feds reported today they seized a Porsche and a Lexus, along with personal and corporate bank accounts from five people and five corporations charged with importing and selling counterfeit toys containing banned chemicals in Queens and Brooklyn.
The indictment charged three Chinese nationals living in Queens–Chenglan Hu, 51, Hua Fei Zhang, 52, and Xiu Lan Zhang, 60 and two U.S. citizens–Guan Jun Zhang, 29,
and Jun Wu Zhang, 28–and their companies–Family Product USA Inc., H.M. Import USA Corp., ZCY Trading Corp., Zone Import Corp. and ZY Wholesale Inc.
“The defendants are accused of importing and selling toys that posed significant
health hazards to children or were the product of blatant intellectual property theft,” said
Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer. “They allegedly retooled their operations many times in order to avoid detection, and despite repeated citations by the authorities, they continued to peddle counterfeit toys featuring Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants and other popular children’s characters. Today’s actions reflect a Justice Department focused on ensuring that consumers receive safe and legitimate goods.”
The feds say that the companies had counterfeit toys seized from shipping containers from China 33 different times. When they were caught, the firms simply changed their names or officers and kept right on doing it.
The toys contained excessive lead, and other chemicals, and small parts that presented choking hazards. Among the other knockoffs were Winnie the Pooh, Betty Boop, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, Spiderman, Tweety, Mickey Mouse, Pokémon, as well as characters from “Cars,” “Toy Story” and “High School Musical.”