Knock-off iPhone charger leaves man with burn, infection

Knock-off iPhone charger leaves man with electrical burn, infection

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Cell phones are ubiquitous, but one Twin Cities man is warning that knock-off accessories could leave the budget-conscious in a world of hurt after the off-brand charger he bought online exploded.

Tim Tyrrell told Fox 9 News he was just trying to save some money when he turned to eBay to buy a second charger for his iPhone 5, but that search for savings ended up costing him more than he bargained for.

"It was just a pretty fast, quick jolt," he recalled.

The jolt that left Tyrrell with a serious electrical burn through his hand destroyed his discount charger, tripped the circuit breaker and put Tyrrell in the hospital for more than a week.

"Basically, the charger turned black and, it's where the USB cord connects to the outlet, had a little mini-explosion," Tyrrell explained. "It kind of bruised the fingers inside where I plugged it in."

Tyrrell still has the original charger that came with his phone, but just like the iPhone itself, the accessories aren't cheap.

"I got two wall chargers and a car charger for like, under $10 compared to the $25-30 you pay for an actual charger in the store," Tyrrell said.

The charger that burned out left a quarter-sized wound on Tyrrell's hand that later became infected -- and much more serious. It took three operations to tackle the infection, and Tyrrell's diabetes slowed his recovery while complicating matters.

Accidents like this aren't unique to iPhones either, and it's a problem Apple is well aware of. In fact, the company offered USB chargers at half price in exchange for knock offs last year to get counterfeits off the street. Additionally, those using iOS 7now get a warning message about unreliable accessories that aren't built to Apple's standards.

Tyrrell's father told Fox 9 News it was a tough lesson to learn, but he and his son don't want to see anyone get hurt in pursuit of saving a few bucks.

"Just be careful," Tyrrell urged. "I mean, obviously, I've been in here for a week and probably have to go in for my fourth operation tomorrow."

There have been several documented cases of similar explosions -- even electrocutions linked to counterfeit chargers; however, there are third-party accessories that are Apple-certified. The best advice when looking for off-brand merchandise is to ensure that it is built to the manufacturer's specifications.

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