8 June 2020TrademarksSarah Morgan

US customs seizes nearly 900,000 COVID-19 counterfeits

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has  seized a large number of counterfeit, unapproved or substandard COVID-19 products, as counterfeiters continue to take advantage of the pandemic.

As of June 1, CBP had seized 107,300 Food and Drug Administration(FDA)-prohibited COVID-19 test kits in 301 incidents, alongside 750,000 counterfeit face masks in 86 incidents.

CBP acting commissioner Mark Morgan said: “Criminals and other bad actors are trying to profit from the coronavirus pandemic by introducing unauthorised, unproven and potentially unsafe goods into the US.”

In addition, 11,000 FDA-prohibited chloroquine tablets have been seized in 91 incidents and 2,500 Environmental Protection Agency-prohibited anti-virus lanyards have been seized in 89 incidents.

US customs has made significant seizures of counterfeit and unauthorised COVID-19 products in Baltimore, Chicago, El Paso, Los Angeles, Rochester, Seattle, and Vicksburg.

The US is not the only place facing a rising tide of counterfeits. In March,  Interpol’s annual Operation Pangea found 2,000 online advertisements related to COVID-19 and seized more than 34,000 unlicensed and fake products, advertised as “corona spray”, “coronavirus medicines” or, “coronaviruses packages”.

In late April, Europol (the EU’s law enforcement agency)  reported that demand for counterfeit products, particularly fake pharmaceutical and healthcare products, had surged and will continue throughout the current COVID-19 crisis.

The threat from counterfeit products related to COVID-19 emerged quickly, according to Europol, with organised crime groups (OCGs) involved in the production and distribution of counterfeit goods proving highly adaptable and exploiting “shortages of genuine products and the fear and anxieties of regular citizens”.

Another  report, published soon after by Europol, suggested that once a genuine vaccine against COVID-19 has been announced, counterfeiters and fraudsters are likely to invest heavily in offering ineffective counterfeit versions of the vaccine online.

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18 May 2020   Two in five companies have seen an increase in cybercrime against their business since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from brand protection company Red Points.
20 April 2020   Demand for counterfeit products, particularly fake pharmaceutical and healthcare products, has surged and will continue throughout the current COVID-19 crisis, despite potentially harmful effects on consumers, according to Europol.
18 June 2020   US customs have seized more than 2,000 counterfeit face masks imitating fashion brands Chanel, Gucci, Burberry, and Supreme.