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8 October 2020AmericasMuireann Bolger

US customs seize ‘astonishing’ amount of counterfeit COVID-19 masks

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers have seized hundreds of thousands of counterfeit facemasks and unapproved COVID-19 related products worth more than $2.5m during the six weeks leading up to October 1.

According to a statement released by the CBP Office, on October 7, officers seized counterfeit and unapproved COVID-19-related products in Baltimore, including nearly 59,000 counterfeit facemasks.

The 58,846 facemasks violated trademark protections of numerous brands, including designer consumer brands, sports teams, vehicle manufacturers, cartoon characters and others. If authentic, the facemasks would have had a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of about $2,553,000, said the CBP.

CBP officers at the port of Pittsburgh seized the largest single shipment of counterfeit masks (17,220) on September 1, with an MSRP of $990,320. The shipment arrived from Hong Kong and was destined for an address in Pennsylvania.

During this period, the CBP officers also seized 916 tablets of COVID-related medications, and 134 COVID-19 test kits and antibody tests.

The test kits and medications were not on the US Emergency Use Authorization List, and their manufacturers were not on the list of firms who have provided compliance notification to the Food & Drug Administration, the CBP said. Consequently, the products violated the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

“The volume of counterfeit COVID-19 facemasks is astonishing and further evidence that predatory scammers will take advantage of an international pandemic to line their greedy pockets by peddling illicit and potentially dangerous products as legitimate COVID-19 personal protective equipment,” said Casey Durst, director of field operations for CBP’s Baltimore Field Office.

“CBP officers remain committed to working with our consumer safety partners and protecting American consumers by intercepting these potentially harmful shipments,” she added.

The seized products arrived from the UK, Finland, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam.

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