Glendale man charged for selling counterfeit luxury auto accessories, bringing in over $1 million: DA

Glendale’s Fei Wu was arraigned for allegedly running a million-dollar automotive counterfeit operation out of a Myrtle Avenue storefront after a long-term investigation by the Queens District Attorney’s office, the NYPD and federal law enforcement.
Photo courtesy of the DA’s office

A Glendale man, along with several corporations linked to him, were criminally charged with trademark counterfeiting and money laundering stemming from the trafficking of bogus custom automobile accessories for luxury brand vehicles, such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced on Sunday.

Fei Wu, 39, of 68th Place in Glendale, was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court for allegedly providing phony custom items to buyers who first purchased generic tire rims from him on eBay, where he was among the biggest sellers of such rims.

Photo courtesy of the DA’s office

A multi-agency probe was launched in 2019 into numerous eBay accounts selling replicas of patented luxury car tire rims with center caps bearing counterfeit logos of car manufacturers, including BMW, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. Some of the seller accounts were registered under corporations linked to Wu, who maintained a storefront on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale. The location functioned as a warehouse to receive, store and ship thousands of replica rims sold on eBay for a fraction of the price of authentic rims. He would then separately ship the stickers, emblems, decals or plastic inserts bearing bogus car manufacturer logos.

“The trafficking of counterfeit goods robs legitimate businesses and their employees and often leaves consumers with substandard products,” Katz said. “The serious charges leveled here are the result of a long-term investigation into an elaborate scheme.”

According to the charges, on July 1, 2020, Wu told an investigator that he imported generic automobile rims from overseas and resold them on eBay. The following day, investigators executed a search warrant at the Ktone Gift storefront in Glendale, where they seized numerous items, including rims with center caps bearing a counterfeit Mercedes-Benz logo.

On May 5, 2021, investigators, with assistance from a third-party vendor, purchased rims for a high-end Mercedes for $870.99 from one of Wu’s eBay accounts. After receiving only the rims, an investigator called the seller’s listed phone number. A man answered the phone and promised to send the center cap separately. A few days later, a package containing four counterfeit center caps with the Mercedes-Benz logo arrived. The package’s label listed Wu’s name, Ktone Corp. and Wu’s residence as the return address.

In January 2022, another purchase of items from Wu resulted in the shipment of four tire rims without center caps. After a similar phone conversation, investigators received a separate package containing four center caps and four stickers bearing a bogus Mercedes-Benz logo to affix to the caps.

After another purchase resulted in more of the same last March, investigators focused on three main eBay seller accounts registered under corporations linked to Wu and an accomplice. The accounts listed more than 1,000 sets of replica rims for sale at prices ranging from $800 to $1,100. An analysis of Wu’s financials revealed that proceeds were deposited into four primary bank accounts registered to Wu, his corporations and/or his accomplice, who has not yet been arrested. Funds were quickly transferred into two secondary TD bank accounts, which in turn, funded two investment accounts controlled by Wu. One of the secondary TD accounts also wired hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Bank of China account registered to a wheel manufacturer.

“Trademark counterfeiting of luxury goods is pervasive in New York City and the United States as a whole and it is never a victimless crime,” NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban said. “It violates the rights of the trademark holder, harms consumers who unknowingly purchase inferior items, significantly impacts businesses that do things the right way and – in some cases – the illicit proceeds are used to fund transnational criminal activities”

On Mar. 28, 2023, investigators executed a search warrant at Wu’s Glendale home and seized approximately 1,700 counterfeit center cap stickers, decals, emblems and center cap plastic inserts bearing logos of brands including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Land Rover and Lexus. The retail value of completed sets of rims bearing those 1,700 counterfeit logos is approximately $350,000.

In January, investigators made a fourth purchase of rims for $1,083.53 from one of Wu’s eBay accounts. The seller sent a message that he would ask the supplier to mail the Mercedes-Benz center caps separately. Investigators received four tire rims in one shipment and a second shipment containing four counterfeit center caps bearing the Mercedes-Benz logo.

Law enforcement executed a search warrant on Mar. 19 at Wu’s home and the Glendale storefront, resulting in the seizure of more than 1,000 tire rims and over 3,000 counterfeit center cap stickers, decals, plastic inserts and emblems bearing the logos of luxury automobile manufacturers. They also seized more than $100,000 in cash. The retail value of completed sets of rims bearing the 3,300 bogus logos is approximately $650,000.

“Mr. Wu is accused of intellectual property theft and money laundering in connection with his production and sale of counterfeit goods,” Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent Erin Keegan said. “Illicit schemes such as these significantly impact local communities here in New York as well as the country as a whole.”

Wu’s TD bank accounts, investment accounts and three eBay accounts have been frozen. Queens Criminal Court Judge Srividya Pappachan ordered him to return to court on June 4. If convicted, Wu faces up to 15 years in prison.