Do not Buy or Use 18650 lithium-ion Batteries if You Got Them Sold Individually at Amazon or Walmart
Warning: fire or explosion risk; these batteries are never legitimately sold individually
March 6, 2021
March 4, 2021, Los Angeles, CA – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning consumers not to buy or use loose 18650 lithium-ion battery cells. These cells are manufactured as industrial component parts of battery packs and are not intended for individual sale to consumers. However, unscrupulous China salvagers separate the battery packs and re-label the recycled unprotected 18650 cells as "new" with wild capacity claims, selling them online.
Consumers who believe they are buying legitimate, safe 18650 lithium-ion ("Li-ion") batteries from Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Wish, and Newegg may be in for a surprise. Fraudulent individual battery cells are extremely hazardous -- they have a fire and explosion risk. Few consumers understand that the fraudulent batteries rarely have the built-in protective circuitry or venting claimed to protect against overcharging, overheating, fires, explosions, or other hazardous events. Overheating and fires turn the batteries into exploding bombs with serious or deadly consequences.
Legitimate 18650 Li-ion batteries are used in laptops, flashlights, cameras, tool battery packs, hoverboards, toys, e-cigarette and vape devices. Seven-thousand individual 18650 cells power a Tesla automobile
Most fakes are easy to spot; there is no legitimate individual 18650 battery with a capacity above 3800mAh, yet batteries with wild capacity claims up to 12,000mAh are common online. There are also fraudulent 18650 cells below 3800mAh. Walmart and Amazon are direct sellers of the fraudulent and dangerous items in addition to enabling and facilitating third-party sales.
The Counterfeit Report, a global award-winning consumer advocate and industry watchdog, purchased hundreds of the fraudulent items from Walmart, Amazon, and Newegg. eBay blocks The Counterfeit Report's investigative purchases.
Amazon and Walmart received legal notice in March 2019 to immediately cease the misleading and deceptive marketing and sales of the fraudulent items. Both ignored the notice. Amazon was then served with a federal class-action lawsuit in September 2020 as a direct seller of the fraudulent items while also facilitating third-party sellers. Alarmingly, The Counterfeit Report identified over 130,000 fraudulent items sold by Amazon and over 5,000 fraudulent items sold by Walmart after notification to correct and remedy their deceptive marketing practices and fraudulent sales.
If you don't use them, why should you care?
If you fly; the FAA identified 300 air/airport incidents (fires and smoke) between March 1991 and November 2020 involving lithium batteries carried as cargo or baggage. Three major aircraft accidents were reported where lithium battery cargo shipments were implicated but not proven to be the fire source. Li-ion batteries are often illegally shipped or mailed in improper packaging or without required disclosure to the carrier.
If you are nearby; the first reported death from a Li-ion battery occurred in May 2018 by the Pinellas County (Florida) Medical Examiner's office. A 38-year-old Florida man died when an e-cigarette device exploded, causing a "projectile wound to the head" and burning 80% of his body. His home had extensive fire damage.
If you share or give a battery-powered device (especially to children); thousands of reported fire and explosion incidents resulting in emergency-room visits in the U.S. can be found, including acute injuries, meaning that the victim required hospitalization and may have suffered the loss of a body part. Batteries are often used close to the user's face or put in pockets.
The fraudulent 18650 Li-ion batteries below were found or purchased on Amazon, Walmart, eBay or Newegg.
Consumers receiving a fraudulent 18650 Li-ion battery should stop using it immediately. Do not mail, ship, disassemble, or throw the battery in the trash; you may be responsible for an injury or death, and in violation of federal law. Find a qualified recycler for drop-off. Notify the e-commerce website and the seller you received a fraudulent battery and demand a refund, or cancel the charge on your credit card or Pay-Pal account.
You may have additional legal remedies which vary by state. California's Consumer Legal Remedy Act (California Civil Code §1782) for example, has protections of $1,000 to $5,000, plus damages, for fraudulent items.
The Counterfeit Report® is the first and only website to promote counterfeit awareness and provide consumers a free and informative visual guide to detecting counterfeit products. The Counterfeit Report has over 11 million unique viewers, has appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, Al-Jazeera, and Fox News TV, presented with the FBI and LAPD, and distributes to over 1500 news outlets and law firms.