Toyota Tsusho America Inc. (TAI) is suing a California company
and a number of managers for allegedly importing counterfeit
catalytic converters from China and reselling them in the U.S.
market as real ones.
TAI filed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations
(Rico) Act lawsuit against Anaheim, Calif.-based Sino Scrap
Inc. and its president, Scott Vollero, who also served as
president of Autocats Inc. Others named in the suit are
Autocats plant manager Dennis McElroy, controller Arthur
Simpson and the companys Asian manager, John R. Mion.
The lawsuit filed in
U.S. District Court in California included e-mails and
documents obtained by private investigators that allegedly
indicate Vollero referred to authentic converters as "McCoys"
and counterfeit ones as "dogs" or "pups."
allegedly went to great lengths to recondition fake converters
to look like they were genuine used converters, including
adding serrated pipe fittings so they looked as if they were
sawed off a vehicle; bead blasting rust off the converters,
which were made from lower-quality steel; baking them to make
them the correct color; and applying soot.
TAI purchased the
convertersmixed with some genuine used
convertersand sent them to refiners to extract the
precious metals, but it said the converters contained none or
minuscule quantities of the metals.
TAI said in the
lawsuit that it suffered damage after forming a subsidiary for
the purpose of acquiring Autocats for $5.5 million and paid for
the company based on falsified financial statements, and
Vollero, who was appointed executive vice president of its
acquisition, damaged TAIs reputation by allegedly
continuing the practice of importing fake converters.
None of the defendants
could be reached for comment.