U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Chicago field office has seized more than 16,000 hoverboards, worth about $6 million, after finding that they posed a health risk and used trademark logos without authorization.
The two-wheeled, motorized boards — which are powered by lithium-ion batteries — have reportedly caught fire while users were charging or riding them. Many of the hoverboards seized by the Chicago field office came from China and have false seals of approval from Northbrook-based Underwriters Laboratories, which tests products for safety and certification.
William Ferrara, director of field operations for the Chicago Customs and Border Protection office, said the fake UL markings give consumers a “false sense of security.” Some of the hoverboards also had counterfeit Samsung logos.
“The batteries do not meet safety standards, and the chargers as well,” Ferrara said at a news conference Wednesday. He said some chargers don’t shut off automatically when the batteries are finished charging, which could lead to an explosion.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating at least 40 reports of fires related to hoverboards in 19 states. It is also examining the safety of boards from 13 manufacturers, importers and distributors. Commission staff are specifically looking at the components and design of battery packs and circuit boards.
Some Illinois universities have banned or restricted the use of hoverboards on their campuses. Metra and U.S. airlines have prohibited the devices as well.
Ferrara stood in a warehouse in Bensenville in front of rows and rows of stacked cardboard boxes containing the hoverboards. And those accounted for only about half of the hoverboards the office has seized. The others were held in another part of the building and in a second warehouse.