Woman Electrocuted And Killed While Talking On Phone Plugged Into Faulty USB Charger

Examples of unapproved chargers. (SMH)

Examples of unapproved chargers. (SMH)

If you’re still one of those people pish-toshing the idea that buying counterfeit or unapproved electronics and accessories can be dangerous, you should learn something from a recent tragedy in Australia. A 28-year-old woman was killed there while talking on a phone that she’d plugged into a faulty USB charger, prompting authorities to warn consumers everywhere against using such devices.

The woman was found dead while wearing headphones inside her home, according to Fair Trading New South Wales, the group that oversees consumer issues such as this, after it’s believed that the $4.95 faulty charger sent high voltage through her body.

Officials with Fair Trading NSW said the phone had been charged into a wall outlet while she was talking, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

“The voltage seems to travel up through the faulty charger into her phone and she was wearing earplugs and also operating a laptop which was also plugged into a power point,” a spokeswoman said. “So the (electricity) traveled back down through the earphones to the laptop and into the power point.”

“Two-hundred-and-forty volts (then) travelled up into the phone which obviously the phone isn’t designed to handle.

The Fair Trading Commissioner says the business that sold her the non-compliant charger could now face fines up to $875,000 and a two-year sentence. It’s been shut down, with hundreds of allegedly faulty USB chargers seized by officials.

“We will certainly be further investigating an outlet which we have detected have supplied theses types of non-compliant articles [chargers] with a view to prosecution,” he said.

He added that there were a a lot of cheap chargers available for sale, something authorities weren’t really aware of until busting the mobile accessory business.

“This is the first time we’ve been aware of them in large numbers,” he said, urging the public to not buy these kinds of unauthorized or unapproved products.

Faulty USB phone charger blamed for woman’s death [Sydney Morning Herald]

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  1. JustPassingBy says:

    I’m in Maryland and all the 7-11 stores here sell those.

  2. jmhuwe says:

    Ken Shirriff has an excellent technical blog post detailing why you should avoid those super cheap usb chargers.

    http://www.righto.com/2014/05/a-look-inside-ipad-chargers-pricey.html

  3. webalias says:

    I’ve had really terrible luck with chargers as well as batteries that aren’t from the original manufacturer. I’ve never been electrocuted, but I’ve had lousy performance, products that don’t last more than a few weeks, batteries that don’t even quite fit, and products that have suddenly stopped working after using a cheap charger. No more. To spend $600 for cell phone and up to $1,000 or more for a digital camera or camcorder, then try to save a few bucks on a charger or extra batteries, seems foolhardy. I also avoid printer toner cartridges that aren’t from the printer’s manufacturer. The last time I bought a generic cartridge, I opened the package to find toner spilled all over. I breathed in a cloud of it, which did not make my lungs very happy.

  4. JasperBeardly says:

    The headline is redundant. “Electrocuted” already means “killed by electricity,” so there’s no need to add “And Killed.”

    • furiousd says:

      e·lec·tro·cute
      iˈlektrəˌkyo͞ot/
      verb
      past tense: electrocuted; past participle: electrocuted
      injure or kill someone by electric shock.
      “a man was electrocuted when he switched on the Christmas tree lights”

  5. AlaskanPixie says:

    As a person who tries to learn from other’s mistakes I’m now tossing out all my cheap chargers. And never using the phone, with headphones, while charging. Which I’ve done before. Not anymore.