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Customs and Border Patrol agents say they've seized nearly $2.5 million worth of counterfeit COVID-19 masks

The masks have been intercepted at ports in Baltimore, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Wilmington, the CBP said.
Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Patrol
Counterfeit COVID-19 masks seized in Pittsburgh

BALTIMORE — U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Wednesday that officers throughout the Mid-Atlantic region continue to seize caches of counterfeit or unapproved COVID-19 medications, facemasks and test kits that arrived in express consignment during the previous six weeks.

Topping the seizures are 58,846 facemasks that violated trademark protections of numerous brands, including designer consumer brands, sports teams, vehicle manufacturers, cartoon characters and others, the CBP said.

Collectively, the facemasks would have had a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of about $2,553,000, if authentic.

CBP officers at the Port of Pittsburgh seized the largest single shipment of these counterfeit facemasks – 17,220 facemasks worth an estimated $990,320 – on September 1, the CBP said. This shipment arrived from Hong Kong and was destined to an address in Allegheny County.

Oftentimes, counterfeit products are manufactured in unregulated facilities with substandard materials that could potentially harm American consumers, the CBP said.

“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. “Customs and Border Protection officers remain committed to working with our consumer safety partners and protecting American consumers by intercepting these potentially harmful shipments.”

Since August 13, CBP officers at the Area Ports of Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, and the Ports of Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Wilmington, Del., have seized:

  • 58,846 counterfeit facemasks during 21 seizures
  • 916 tablets of COVID-related medications during two seizures
  • 134 COVID-19 test kits and antibody tests during six seizures

These test kits and medications are not on the current Emergency Use Authorization List nor are the manufacturers on the list of firms who have provided compliance notification to the FDA, the CBP said. As such, the products are inadmissible to the United States for violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

CBP said it is withholding specific details of individual seizures as many cases remain under investigation.

The products arrived from Finland, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and Vietnam. The parcels were destined to addresses in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, according to the CBP.