The feds in South Florida have seized more than 200 Chinese-made “hoverboards” outfitted with bootleg and potentially dangerous batteries.
The hoverboard devices, known technically as “self-balancing scooters,” were seized last week at PortMiami, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The 235 boxes, labeled “Smart Balance Wheel,” were found in a shipping container from China. The batteries were labeled “LG,” but officers figured out they were not actually produced by the well-known electronics company.
“Self-balancing scooters are very popular in today’s pop culture, but it is important to realize that certain versions being imported into the United States are counterfeit and present a safety concern,” said Diane J. Sabatino, director of CBP’s field operations.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said last month that it was looking into at least 10 reports of the self-balancing electric scooters bursting in flames — a danger experts pinned on inferior quality lithium-ion batteries. The fire threat is serious enough that several U.S. airlines banned hoverboards from cabins and cargo holds during the holiday season.
The market value of the bootleg devices seized in Miami was $94,000, according to CBP. The “Smart Balance Wheel” is manufactured by the Miberi company in China, according to the company’s website.
Hoverboards were the hot holiday gift, despite concerns that the devices could catch fire during recharging and that beginning riders could take nasty falls. Across the Internet, videos of people tumbling off hoverboards have gone viral — one prominent victim was former heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson.
Safety concerns also have spurred businesses across the country to ban the devices. This week, the Carolina Panthers forbade players from riding the scooters in the team’s facility.
There is actually no one “hoverboard” manufacturer. Instead, a hodgepodge of companies — mostly from China — produce varying products, some of inferior quality.