WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Homeland Security Department revealed on Wednesday that they have seized more than 11 million fake N95 masks.
- The counterfeit masks appeared to like 3M-made N95 masks, which were already distributed to several states across the US since last year.
- Federal agencies have been working to address the growing cases of fraudulent selling of counterfeit masks and other medical stuff related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Federal authorities reported on Wednesday that they confiscated over 11 million counterfeit N95 masks as they seized about 1 million masks on the same day. There is an ongoing investigation about the fake, imported masks that have been rolled out to health care facilities and other entities in at least five US states.
The bogus masks looked like the 3M N95 mask produced by a Minnesota-based manufacturing company. According to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the products were sold “from coast to coast” in states and they are anticipating to obtain more masks in the coming weeks.
Mayorkas said that the sellers have taken “advantage of our fears to make a quick buck,” noting that authorities are already “working closely with 3M to identify bad actors.”
The malpractice has been ongoing since April last year, and there had been no lawsuits made by the authorities. Charges, though, are expected to arrive soon.
Authorities did not name the companies under investigation as well as the states affected by the incident.
A representative from 3M has recently confirmed to Fox News that Washington state officials discovered over 300,000 phony masks which were bought at $1.4 million.
Authorities have also reached out to over 6,000 possible victims across 12 states, who were likely not aware of the counterfeit masks. They urged medical workers and companies to learn how to identify knockoff masks by pointing them to 3M’s official website.
The masks were not reviewed to assess whether they would pass the N95 standard, which is known to be the most sought mask against COVID-19.
Over the year, federal authorities also witnessed growing cases of fraudulent selling of drugs and other medical equipment.
During the pandemic, federal agencies such as the Homeland Security Department, the Food and Drug Administration, and the FBI, have been going over the crooked dealings. Authorities have seized fake products worth $33 million and arrested over 200 individuals.
A government watchdog and a component of Homeland Security, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center is the agency that oversees international trade laws and intellectual property rights.
Last year, the Minnesota-based company filed over dozen of lawsuits in connection with the rampant fraudulent selling scheme of masks.
As one of the biggest international N95 mask manufacturers, 3M has provided over two billion masks in 2020. Scammers took advantage of selling knockoff masks when the country had a scarcity of supplies.
Source: Fox News