Police raided two Brooklyn warehouses Thursday night, seizing more than $7 million worth of counterfeit Apple and Samsung products after a months-long investigation that began when suspicious packages began coming in through Kennedy Airport, officials said.
NYPD swarmed the storefronts at 203 Highlawn Ave. and 2172 Coney Island Ave., opening and examining stacks of cardboard boxes and repacking them to take as evidence. The raid yielded 31,000 phones and $71,000.
"These products are dangerous. They're not what the manufacturer produced in a safe manner," said NYPD Assistant Chief Brian McCarthy. "They have safety concerns for people who would buy them."
The awning on Coney Island Avenue says Phone Traders, and investigators believe the business has been peddling fake smartphones for awhile.
Police said boxes of counterfeit phones were sent from the Brooklyn locations to smaller stores, which would then sell the knockoffs to unsuspecting customers. Those businesses have not been identified, but police are looking into how many of the counterfeit phones are already out there.
Three men accused of running the fake smartphone ring have been arrested. Police have not named them.
Investigators were tipped off about nine months ago by agents at JFK Airport about suspicious packages coming in, officials said. Police worked with Customs Border Protection and traced them back to the Brooklyn locations.
"They were working in a joint partnership, working together it was multiple locations, multiple vehicles being utilized in the operation," said McCarthy.
Gravesend resident Steve Bryans said he's "never thought much" of the store, and that the windows were often concealed when he walked past.
"I'm pretty shocked to see this scene going on here," he said.
Jonathan Dienst contributed to this report