North Carolina Man Pleads Guilty to Creating and Selling Fake Mercedes-Benz Automotive Equipment
NEW ORLEANS—U.S. Attorney Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr. announced that ROBERT BECKMANN, age 52, of Durham, North Carolina, pleaded guilty as charged yesterday before U.S.
District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, to criminal infringement of a copyright, a misdemeanor, and his company, BECKMANN TECHNOLOGIES, INC., pleaded guilty to creating and selling non-authentic Mercedes-Benz diagnostic equipment.
According to court documents, BECKMANN owned BECKMANN TECHNOLOGIES, INC., a company that, among other things, sold remanufactured parts for Mercedes-Benz automobiles. Between about 2001 and July 2012, BECKMANN TECHNOLOGIES, INC., in conjunction with “Company A,” located in Harahan, Louisiana, “Company B,” located in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, and an individual in the United Kingdom, “J.C.,” produced and sold unauthorized, non-authentic versions of the Mercedes-Benz Star Diagnostic System (SDS), a hand-held computer containing proprietary, confidential software. The SDS is used by mechanics to diagnose problems with and assure the safety of Mercedes-Benz vehicles employing electronic control systems.
BECKMANN TECHNOLOGIES, INC. was responsible for creating hardware for the fake SDS units, including a “black box,” while Company A, with assistance from BECKMANN TECHNOLOGIES, INC. and others, obtained, modified, and duplicated the authentic SDS software so that it would operate on ordinary laptop computers and without Mercedes-Benz’s authorization or license. After learning that Mercedes-Benz had notified J.C. that his conduct was in violation of civil and/or criminal laws, representatives of BECKMANN TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Company A, and Company B discussed a plan to have J.C. “go underground and off the radar” and continue working on making fake SDS.
The “real” SDS sold for between $8,300 and $22,000 each, while the fake SDS sold for up to $11,000, depending on market factors. In total, Company A and Company B sold at least 795 fake SDS.
BECKMANN faces a maximum term of imprisonment of one (1) year and a $100,000 fine. BECKMANN TECHNOLOGIES, INC. faces a maximum fine of $500,000. Sentencing before Judge Engelhardt has been scheduled for December 10, 2014, at 9:00 a.m.
This case was investigated by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution of this case was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg and Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) Senior Counsel Evan Williams.