POLICE investigating alleged counterfeit car airbags have arrested a man in Dorset.

Since January detectives from the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) have been investigating the reported sale of counterfeit airbags and airbag covers to the public via eBay.

At around 8:30am on Thursday, a 34-year-old man was arrested in Blandford Forum on suspicion of counterfeiting and money laundering offences, and he is helping officers with their enquiries.

Officers also carried out a search at a house in Creekmoor, Poole.

A spokesman said they had seized around 100 suspected counterfeit airbags, a large quantity of airbag components, financial documents and computers.

Staff from the Ministry of Defence also attended as a precaution due to the presence of explosives in the airbag mechanism.

The alleged scam was first identified by Honda Motor Europe, which carried out an analysis of the airbags at its UK headquarters and said they were counterfeit and would not deploy properly on collision.

PIPCU said the airbags had been on sale online since September 2013 for approximately £170 - half the price of a genuine airbag. The force has alerted 680 people believed to have bought defective airbags as well as other products from the same sellers, and urged them to get in touch with a dealership.

Superintendent Maria Woodall of the City of London Police said: “The counterfeiting of any device designed to save lives demonstrates the obscene lengths criminals will go to make money and their sheer disregard for those they are exploiting.

“With the safety of the public being our primary focus in this investigation, we are urging anyone who has concerns about a possible counterfeit car part they may have, to contact their nearest authorised car dealer.

"They will have the expertise to examine the vehicle and determine if it is safe and roadworthy.

"Furthermore, if you suspect you have purchased a counterfeit product or have come into contact with a counterfeit website please report the matter to Action Fraud."

Individuals or businesses who have fallen victim to a fraud can contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at www.actionfraud.police.uk.