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Authorities warn against phony USB chargers after electrocution death

Australian authorities are warning consumers against the use of counterfeit brand USB chargers after a NSW woman was killed in apparent electrocution, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The 28-year-old Gosford woman was found dead in her home at the end of last month, wearing headphones and holding her laptop with burns to her ears and chest. A report is still being prepared for the coroner, but a malfunctioning charger is believed to be the source of the electrocution.

NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe is warning consumers against using counterfeit chargers – the sort typically bought for a low cost at discount stores, stalls, service stations and markets – stating that until now, authorities were not aware that a large number of USB-style chargers that do not meet Australian safety standards are being widely sold around the country.

Stowe stated that rip-off chargers, power boards and travel adaptors were removed from sale at a mobile phone accessory stall in the Sydney suburb of Campsie following the death, with the stall trader facing fines of up to $87,500 and/or two years’ imprisonment.

“This is the first time we’ve been aware of them in large numbers,” Commissioner Stowe said. “We’re only familiar with this one incident and it does look like one of these devices are implicated in the electrocution.” Before the incident, reports of phony chargers tripping the power on laptop computers – rendering the computers useless – had begun to circulate on social media.

If you already own a counterfeit power devive, NSW Fair Trading are advising you to bend the pins on charger and throw it away immediately.

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