U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it has seized counterfeit or unapproved COVID-19 medications and test kits, and nearly 59,000 counterfeit face masks from 11 different countries totaling a retail value of over $2.5 million in port cities across the Mid-Atlantic region, including Baltimore.
According to a news release, CBP officers at ports in Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, have seized the following since Aug. 13:
- 58,846 counterfeit face masks during 21 seizures;
- 916 tablets of COVID-related medications during two seizures;
- 134 COVID-19 test kits and antibody tests during six seizures.
The face masks were trademark violations of multiple designer brands, sports teams, vehicle manufacturers, cartoon characters and other entities. If authentic, the face masks are worth $2,553,000 at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.
The test kits and medications are deemed illegal because they are not on the current Emergency Use Authorization List, nor are the manufacturers on the FDA’s list of compliant firms.
“The volume of counterfeit COVID-19 face masks 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, in the statement.
“Customs and Border Protection officers remain committed to working with our consumer safety partners and protecting American consumers by intercepting these potentially harmful shipments.”
CBP has warned consumers that counterfeit products are often manufactured in unregulated facilities with substandard materials that could be potentially harmful.