Warning over USB chargers after woman dies from apparent electrocution

Authorities are warning consumers against buying rip-off USB-style chargers after a young woman wearing headphones and holding her laptop was found dead with burns on her ears and chest, in an apparent electrocution.

Chargers seized from the stall in Campsie.

Chargers seized from the stall in Campsie.

The 28-year-old woman was found dead at a North Gosford home on the state's Central Coast in April, police said.

A report will be prepared for the coroner after the woman was believed to have been electrocuted and her body discovered about found 4pm on April 23.

Brisbane Waters police are investigating the circumstances surrounding her death.

NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe said a number of USB-style chargers, travel adaptors and power boards that did not meet Australian safety standards had been removed from sale at a mobile phone accessory stall in Campsie, in Sydney's south-west, following the death.

Mr Stowe said authorities were not aware until now of the large number of the cheap chargers that were available for sale in NSW.

The chargers have been linked to the death of a woman.

"This is the first time we've been aware of them in large numbers," he said.

While this was so far the only known fatality potentially associated with the devices, Mr Stowe was concerned that the public be informed as soon as possible to avoid further deaths.

"We're only familiar with this one incident and it does look like one of these devices are implicated in the electrocution," he said.

The woman's death is under investigation by police and Fair Trading was unable to release any further details.

Mr Stowe said she was found with a lap top and headphones in her ears.

"[She had] burns on both ears and her chest," he said.

The Campsie trader faces fines of up to $87,500 and/or two years' imprisonment. A corporation can be fined up to $875,000.

Mr Stowe said the rip-off, cheap chargers were low quality plastic that could melt.

The devices found by Fair Trading had no insulation on pins or approval marks.

In a statement, Fair Trading said electrical products sold in NSW had to comply with the Electricity (Consumer Safety) Act to ensure they met Australian Standards.

Consumers who have already bought unapproved and non-compliant USB-style chargers, used to charge phones and tablets, are advised to bend the pins on the chargers and throw them away immediately.

People should also not use any electrical devices while they are plugged in and charging.

Anyone with information about unapproved and non-compliant electrical or gas products should contact Fair Trading on 13 32 20.


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