Tests commissioned by the UK Trading Standards organization found that all but three of 400 fake chargers sold as being made by Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) failed basic safety tests. The tests were conducted by Illinois-based firm UL. Leon Livermore, the chief executive of the U.K.’s Chartered Trading Standards Institutes, warned that fakes “could cost you your home or even your life, or the life of a loved-one.”
To conduct the tests, investigators bought 400 counterfeit Apple chargers from suppliers around the world from online retailers. The counterfeits were obtained from eight countries, including Australia, China and the U.S. Then, the investigators put them through the tests that they would need to pass in order to be sold in shops in the UK. The tests showed that 397 of the chargers were likely to cause electric shock or burst into flames if exposed to high voltage.
Counterfeit chargers have long been a problem for Apple. Apple has investigated multiple claims of iPhones catching fire and found that fake charging devices are the primary cause of the rarely reported incidents. Apple launched a global program in 2013 to exchange unauthorized or counterfeit adapters with Apple-manufactured ones at a reduced price.
In recent weeks, Apple filed a lawsuit against Mobile Star for manufacturing fake chargers which were then sold through Amazon. For a nine month period, Apple purchased and tested over 100 Lightning cables and chargers marked “Fulfilled by Amazon.” It found 90 percent of them were fake. Amazon has since increased its efforts to remove merchants selling fake goods from its marketplace.
A study back in 2014 found that Apple’s chargers used better components, were better built, and had more electrical insulation than cheap fakes. Apple said in its lawsuit, “Unlike genuine Apple products, they are not subjected to industry-standard consumer safety testing and are poorly constructed with inferior or missing components, flawed design, and inadequate electrical insulation.”
Charging devices are complex and should be built to handle complex power management tasks. To ensure against using a fake charging device, always purchase charging devices from the manufacturer of the device you wish to charge, if possible. The plugs should carry appropriate safety warnings that are correctly spelt. Mistakes in brand names or logos are warning signs of counterfeiting.
Many of the fake adaptors are being sold as being the genuine article. Users should also be wary of deals that seem too good to be true and should read reviews of the seller before making a purchase. Lord Toby Harris, chairman of Trading Standards, said in a statement, “Criminals across the globe are using online platforms to lure you in with cheap deals for fake items, many of which are dangerous and have been known to overheat and cause house fires.”