Fake toy bust shows the seemingly harmless could be dangerous
When people in Austin think about dangerous products, they might not think of toys as the first sorts of products that come to mind. After all, aren't toys held to high safety standards and levels of testing so that they do not harm our children? In many cases that is true, but when products are manufactured or imported illicitly, skirting consumer protection rules, then all bets are off as far as the safety of the toys goes.
Such a case played out recently in New York, where knockoff products featuring popular characters such as Mickey Mouse, Spider-Man and SpongeBob Square Pants were seized and five people were arrested. The goods had been smuggled from China and had not been approved by American officials. This means that not only were they violating copyrights and intellectual property laws, they were dangerous: some of the toys reportedly were choking hazards and some even contained lead.
The scheme was a lucrative one for the people involved. Police reported seizing luxury cars that had been paid for by the proceeds from sales of the counterfeit goods. The people who were arrested were charged with violating the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Act for importing the dangerous products over the last several years.
There were no immediate reports of illness or injury tied to the dangerous toys, but parents should keep a watchful eye on the products their children play with to ensure that they are legitimate and safe. Just because a friendly cartoon face appears on a toy does not mean that toy is up to safety standards.
Source: The New York Post, "Bad toy bust: feds nab five in dangerous counterfeit toy scheme," Mitchell Maddux, Feb. 6, 2013