Counterfeit Products and Criminals Put Americans at Risk During Coronavirus Crisis
Washington, D.C. (March 23, 2020) – As states and communities grapple with the coronavirus crisis, criminals on the dark web are still hard at work –– deceiving American consumers to sell counterfeits of critical products like gloves, face masks and even fake test kits. Bad actors are exploiting a loophole in the global postal system to send illegal packages into the U.S. without the crucial security data that law enforcement needs to detect dangerous shipments. Americans for Securing All Packages (ASAP) is urging action from Congress and the federal agencies tasked with preventing global trafficking to ensure American families are not unknowingly put in harm’s way due to counterfeit goods.
Last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intercepted fake test kits for coronavirus and other diseases at O’Hare International Airport, prompting a local official to warn that “counterfeit products have serious consequences to everyone,” and that seizures of illegal fake goods help protect the health and safety of Americans. Similar counterfeit test kits were seized in Los Angeles just a few days before. Medical face masks sold in dark web marketplaces are likely fake, taking advantage of consumer demand amidst a global shortage. Other dishonest vendors marketed gloves that promised to “prevent coronavirus, flu and pneumonia,” which the Wall Street Journal reports that no consumer grade gloves can do.
“In the middle of a public health crisis that will define a generation, families shouldn’t have to worry that the products they buy won’t keep their loved ones safe,” said Juliette Kayyem, senior advisor to Americans for Securing All Packages. “Our government needs to be focusing on this fight on all fronts – including action to ensure criminals aren’t profiting from this crisis by selling fake products undetected through the mail. For far too long, traffickers have used a global postal loophole to send counterfeits to the U.S. without consequences. Congress and federal agencies can act now to ensure that is no longer the case.”
As Congress works to protect Americans from the virus, it’s vital that these counterfeit threats are also addressed. While the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act was passed in 2018 to provide law enforcement with the security data needed to stop dangerous shipments sent through the global postal system, federal agencies have since missed numerous deadlines under the law. A recent report from the United States Senate Finance Committee specifically highlighted the importance of enforcing the STOP Act to address counterfeits, noting that the data it requires is “useful to target and prevent counterfeit goods.”