COVID-19 Protection Gear Scams

| April 10, 2020

It was predictable that people would emerge to take advantage of the current coronavirus crisis.  There have been many reported financial scams targeting small business owners which may be an opportunity for another post.

However, this is to highlight scams centered around protective gear… or more precisely, gear being sold as protective when it is not.

The Sun reports: HOW COULD THEY? How scammers behind million-pound trade in fake coronavirus protection gear and medicine are putting lives at risk

The article makes the argument that fake coronavirus masks, testing kits and drugs pose a global threat that puts thousands of lives at risk.

Soaring demand in the Covid-19 pandemic has seen a multi-million pound trade spring up, with criminals plying their vile trade on the back of people’s fears.

Interpol has now warned that one of the five global threats from the coronavirus is the fraudulent and counterfeit trade in personal protective equipment and anti-viral pharmaceuticals.

With China and India, the world’s two largest producers of medicine, in lockdown, demand now outstrips the supply, opening the door for counterfeit drugs.

Interpol says it has made 121 arrests across 90 countries in just seven days, resulting in the seizure of dangerous pharmaceuticals worth over £11m.

The United States standard for an effective COVID-19 filtration mask is an N95, which will have a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) name and number stamped on the product.

This item is more appropriately called a respirator vs. a mask, but sometimes referred to with both terms.

Recently, health officials have acknowledged the KN95 standard mask which is China’s standard.  I have read numerous studies and found that it is equivalent to the US N95 standard for filtering out particulates, but the problem is nobody enforces that standard.  People are stamping cheap cotton masks with “KN95” and selling them.

Here in the US, we have things like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to protect consumers.  There does not appear to be an equivalent for enforcement in China, or they are not as effective.

More can be found about counterfeit masks at the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

The CDC is advising that N95 masks should be reserved for people on the front lines such as health care workers.  This is because most of them have to get within the 6 feet social distancing guidelines to administer patient care.  The CDC states that most of the general public should wear non-N95 face coverings and if they maintain the 6 feet of distance they should be OK.

Getting back to the counterfeiting – this is despicable.  Some of those photos of seized materials look similar to a drug bust.

I hope that international law enforcement agencies have some real teeth to crack down on this.  Lives are at risk.

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Comments (7)

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  1. AW1Ed says:

    Greedy bastards. Poetic justice would have them gasping their last breath with the coronavirus.

  2. 5th/77th FA says:

    Neither shocked nor surprised by these shenanigans. When you have a government sanctioned viral infection spreading all over hell and half the world and that same government is shipping defective product why shouldn’t other ne’er do wells attempt to cash in?

    Here’s a novel punishment. Have these perps do the decon on all of the infected areas using the PPE that they sold. Give any monies confiscated to the families of people who may have gotten sick or died from using their fake goods. THEN hang the bastards.

  3. OWB says:

    If you don’t have your stuff in order before the crisis hits you waited too long to get your stuff in order. After your usual and trusted sources of supply shut down is no time to try to vet an unknown supplier.

  4. Dan Fr says:

    Looks like China is back to work………

  5. Anonymous says:

    Harry Lime rides again.