A faulty USB is being blamed for a NSW woman’s death, and has prompted calls to check that even low-power adapters are properly certified.

A mobile accessories kiosk operator has had merchandise confiscated, and faces fines of up to $8,500 and a possible two year prison sentence, after a 28-year-old woman was found dead with burns on her ears and chest, while wearing headphones and holding her laptop.

Authorities say it was a clear case of electrocution, and an un-certified USB charger in use at the time is being investigated.

A spokesperson for NSW Fair Trading says electricity arced between the 240 volt input and the five volt USB output, but that the coroner is still looking in to the entire series of events.

Price is often the most obvious indicator of quality and appropriate certification on electronics. Generic equipment often costs a fraction of the price of legitimate gear, but certainly in this case a few dollars can make all the difference.

Under Australia regulations, the pins that plug into a power point need to insulated, the construction of electrical devices must be sturdy, and there is a system of approval marks imprinted on the products themselves.

Authorities say they will crack down on dodgy devices, but it may be near-impossible to ever totally alleviate them, so there is a responsibility for the user to check before plugging anything in.

More information on Australian electrical compliance is available here.