TEGA CAY — The mother of a Tega Cay teen suspected of selling thousands of dollars worth of counterfeit cellphone cases on the Internet acted as a lookout for him at a buy that was busted by police, the York County Sheriffs Office said.
The 43-year-old woman denied knowing the goods her son was selling were phony, according to a police report and a sheriffs spokesman.
The teen also denied knowing the almost $15,000 in fake OtterBox iPhone cases were counterfeit when confronted by detectives Jan. 2 in the parking lot of the Wendys restaurant on Carowinds Boulevard, said Trent Faris, a Sheriffs Office spokesman.
The Fort Mill High School student told police he sold the cases to bulk customers online for $10 apiece, Faris said.
The teen said thats what he does to make money, his job, Faris said.
OtterBox cases regularly sell for at least $50 retail.
A detective working for OtterBox set up the sting and contacted police Dec. 19 after finding a suspect selling large amounts of counterfeit items on the classified advertisement website Craigslist, the report states.
The teen told the detective that the goods were in his mothers SUV. The mother was parked nearby acting as a lookout for her son, the report states.
Police detectives then pulled patrol cars in front of the teen and mothers trucks and identified themselves.
The mother had 52 counterfeit OtterBoxes in her vehicle when the deal went south, the report states.
Wayne Grooms, the detective for OtterBox, confirmed in an interview with The Herald that counterfeit OtterBoxes confiscated at the scene were in the SUV of the mother.
The woman told police after the roust that she was just making sure her son was safe in the sale of the goods that he believed to be legitimate, Faris said.
She then told police there were about 250 more cases at her house, the report states, and she allowed police to confiscate them from the family home on Silver Gull Drive in Tega Cay.
All told, 355 counterfeit cases were seized.
The police report shows that detectives recovered packing labels showing the cases had been shipped from China.
No charges have been filed, but the case, described as unauthorized use of goods with counterfeit trademarks, remains under investigation by the Sheriffs Office.
Police notified the S.C. Secretary of States office, which investigates trademark infringement.
That office, which has regulatory authority but not law enforcement powers, knows of the incident but has taken no action, spokeswoman Renee Daggerhart said.
The mother is identified on the police report as a suspect but has not been charged, police said.
Sales of more than $10,000 in counterfeit items by an adult is a felony that carries up to five years in prison and $20,000 in fines, according to state law.
The teen, a juvenile, could face sanction in Family Court if arrested.
It is unclear what action OtterBox will take, but its website proclaims it is in a prolific, constant battle against counterfeiters.
In 2012, OtterBox won a $10 million civil judgment against a Texas group selling counterfeit goods online.
Andrew Dys 803-329-4065