Erdrückende Räumlichkeiten bei einer Razzia in Produktionsräumen von Plagiaten in Wenzhou

On the hunt for plagiarisms IV: On the counterfeiters’ heels

Audi employees support the Chinese authorities during raids

A raid in the capital of counterfeit products. Audi employee Serhyi Jewtymowycz starts his hunt for product forgers together with the Chinese authorities in Wenzhou. The search’s focus? The Audi logo. Why he follows his nose when hunting for plagiarisms...

Auf der Lauer bei Fälscherbetrieben in Wenzhou.
The counterfeit workshops are often inconspicuous and are located in backyards or in living rooms. They are found and sought out by observations.

An early morning in Wenzhou, China. The rain overflows the streets. The humidity is as pressing as the tension of the involved parties. A red lampion with Chinese signs waves around and is probably the only thing in the area that can be called aesthetic.

In everyone’s focus: a warehouse. Nothing out of the ordinary. Blue corrugated iron and a garage door with a lock. Despite week-long observations, there are merely assumptions as to what is hiding behind the door.

The Chinese authorities give their signal. With targeted hits, they’re hitting the iron. No reaction. After a short time period, they break the lock and storm inside the hall. The rooms are vacant, the target person gone. But they still find what they came for.

Several baskets with metal parts pile across the oil-smeared floor. Various cardboard boxes, ready for shipment. Mountains of plastic parts and packing material block the passage way. Between all the chaos, there are workbenches and machines situated across the room. They’re still warm and there are still unfinished metal parts lying under a grinder. Someone was eager to disappear.

Werkstatt Fälscherbetrieb

Ninety percent of car part plagiarisms are produced in China. The sales takes place worldwide.

Important hints during the pursuit of counterfeiters

Audi Brand Protector Serhyi walks through the warehouse with searching eyes. He quickly looks through baskets filled with supporting rods, breaking pads and radiator grilles, but seems to be searching something else entirely. His role is clear – he’s looking for the Four Rings. The Four Rings that shouldn’t have been here in the first place.

Full of determination, he navigates towards a box, extracts an air filter and smells. A biting, chemical odor. It’s questionable if the used material would be allowed for usage in Germany. Without wrinkling his nose, he quickly assesses one thing: “Counterfeit product!”
And the most important hint, the brand logo, can be found here.
It’s a component that fits the new Audi Q5 that came to market six months ago. The forgers are quick and imitate nearly any car part. Their drive is the worldwide demand in this billion-dollar business. They’re watching the market and buy parts to forge them on their own.

But what the counterfeiters are busy doing, the Audi Brand Protection has been doing for much longer. The plagiarism hunter has found the production site thanks to monitoring on the internet. The anonymity of the worldwide web that is generally used by the forgers, offers him the opportunity to complete anonymous purchases. After an in-depth identification and documentation of the different parts, Serhyi provides the Chinese authorities with the parts. Subsequently, they get the raid underway.

When identifying forged car parts, Audi Brand Protector Serhyi relies on his senses. The smell, a hollow sound or a wavy surface often indicate a counterfeit product.

Plagiarisms often entail huge dangers

While the authorities and the Audi Brand Protector recognize counterfeit products after just a few moments, amateurs have difficulties with identifying plagiarisms on first glance. But the imitated product’s quality is as diverse as the variety of parts the forgers offer to potential customers.
“Counterfeit products are like a goodie bag. You never know what you get and the majority can’t distinguish between good and bad quality”, Serhyi says.
Forged parts can have devastating consequences. Relevant research show that faked braking pods – even though they may look like original parts at first glance ¬– can catch fire during emergency braking.

In order to produce counterfeit products, the forgers buy original parts and recreate them.

Metal chips, screws and glass splinters are distributed all over the production site’s floor. A smell that brings tears into one’s eyes. Usually, there are no security precautions and no quality assurance. “The people that work here and manufacture counterfeits, generally pay with their health for ensuring an affordable price for the end customer.”, Serhyi says sharing his personal opinion.

The production location’s miserable conditions mirror the plagiarism’s quality: Parts that have a price difference of just a few euros compared to the original part, can cause implications up to several thousand euros. For example, a fake oil pump not pumping enough oil into the car’s engine will result in severe damage.

Step by step – on the counterfeiter’s heels

The Chinese authorities secure the different evidence. Several trucks are necessary to hog the masses of counterfeits that are located in the warehouse. Serhyi identifies and documents all the counterfeit products that are taken away. The photos and videos of the production site form the basis for the legal prosecution later on.
The package’s documentation is especially interesting for the plagiarism hunter. They packages are already equipped with the different recipient addresses. They include private individuals, but also dealers whose mafia-like structure moves through the whole world. Important pieces for the continuing prosecution of counterfeit products and their distributors.
Serhyi has everything he needs. He draws a note pad from his pocket – he maintains a tally sheet on the note pad’s last page. He adds a new line. Raid number 942. What drives him? Pure love for the Audi brand.

Beweisdokumentation durch chinesische Behörden

The detailed documentation of the production locations and the plagiarisms located there are an important part of the raid. Only with that a subsequent criminal investigation is possible later on.

The production locations of counterfeit products

Anyone who engages with counterfeit products, has to reckon that they exhibit bad quality and may fail during driving what results in far-reaching consequences for the vehicle or/and the car’s occupants.

It’s often trucks with plagiarisms that are hogged by Chinese authorities during raids.

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Serhyi and the Audi Brand Protection team are regularly in China to support the authorities with their technical expertise during raids.

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The production sites of counterfeit businesses rarely include safety precautions and quality assurances.

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