Millions of Counterfeit Masks Flooded U.S. Customs Facilities Last Year

Date: Monday, February 8, 2021
Source: Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON—U.S. Customs agents seized nearly 13 million counterfeit face masks in the 12 months that ended Sept. 30, according to a report set for release Thursday, as the Covid-19 pandemic spurred demand for protective equipment.

Agents also confiscated 177,000 test kits prohibited by the Food and Drug Administration and 38,000 chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine tablets that were barred by the FDA, the report said.

Other items intercepted included nearly 37,000 so-called antivirus lanyards touted to prevent Covid-19 infection and which contain substances prohibited by the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in an annual report on trade and travel set for release Thursday.

“What we are seeing is, no big surprise, a lot of counterfeits rolling through those supply chains,” Brenda Smith, who heads CBP’s Office of Trade, said in an interview.

China was the origin of 51% of the seizures, according to the report. The agency’s 10,000 officers carried them out at more than 300 points of entry.

Counterfeit products are those that violate the copyrights of other companies. Such masks included fake products labeled as having been made by major producers such as 3M Co. or by luxury brands. Among the agency’s recent seizures were 21 shipping boxes of masks labeled as 3M Mask Model 1860, seized in Cincinnati in December.

The shipment, which would have had a retail value of $65,520 had the masks been genuine, was determined to be counterfeit by CBP officials.

The seized items are destroyed and their importers are notified, typically through customs brokers. Individuals may be notified by their e-commerce companies they that their items are no longer available.

China was the origin of 51% of the seizures, according to the report. The agency’s 10,000 officers carried them out at more than 300 points of entry.

Counterfeit products are those that violate the copyrights of other companies. Such masks included fake products labeled as having been made by major producers such as 3M Co. or by luxury brands. Among the agency’s recent seizures were 21 shipping boxes of masks labeled as 3M Mask Model 1860, seized in Cincinnati in December.

The shipment, which would have had a retail value of $65,520 had the masks been genuine, was determined to be counterfeit by CBP officials.

The seized items are destroyed and their importers are notified, typically through customs brokers. Individuals may be notified by their e-commerce companies they that their items are no longer available.

 

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