Engine Oil Counterfeiting Ring Uncovered in Russia

A counterfeiting ring in Moscow was busted by Russian police last month.
Oil "factory" 1 photo
Photo:| George Malets |
The illegal business focused on making counterfeit engine oil and packaging it in plastic containers used by popular brands like Shell, Total, Mobil, Elf, Castrol, and several other brands. They even faked OEM engine oil by bottling their product in containers that were labeled with brand specific elements for Ford, Mazda, Nissan, Volkswagen, BMW, GM and Toyota.

While this isn’t the first and probably not the last counterfeiting operation focused on automotive products, the scale of this particular ring was concerning. The Ministry Department for Economic Crimes and Corruption in Russia estimated that the people running this business made approximately $164 million a year. That’s 147 million euros a year from producing and selling counterfeit engine oil alone, Automotorblog reports.

According to the Russian authorities, the counterfeit ring worked with oil canisters purchased from Belarus, which were processed in an apparently abandoned factory. Then, plastic cans resembling original ones were filled with the fake oil. The counterfeiters even had the audacity to label bottles with a particular machine for each distinct brand, resembling the original.

To save on labor costs, the leaders of the scheme used illegal immigrants for a lower production cost and to make sure nobody would leak any info to the authorities. After all, the immigrants were housed in the factory in awful living conditions.

According to investigators, the fake oil was sold in Moscow at various auto parts shows and events. Given the estimated size of this business, we could assume the counterfeiters even sold the oil in some shops or through unlicensed street vendors.

The entire enterprise was led by two young men from Moscow, who ended up working in four large abandoned storage buildings. Taking into account this is an illegal business, that’s a lot of space to use for such activities.

The authorities haven’t specified for how long the two “entrepreneurs” have been doing this, but this bust only meant closing one of many counterfeiting rings in Russia. So, remember, always make sure you buy parts and supplies from a reputable store and that their cases and wrapping materials haven't been tampered with.

Most popular brands have online guides to help consumers tell the difference between an original product and a fake. Naturally, fake products don’t offer the level of quality and performance of the original and are usually sold as a “one-of-a-kind” deal or offer.
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About the author: Sebastian Toma
Sebastian Toma profile photo

Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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