In Case You Missed It: FBI and Local Law Enforcement Warn of Dangers of Counterfeit COVID-19 Products
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has led to a shortage of gloves, face masks, fake test kits and other necessary medical supplies across the country. But as medical professionals work tirelessly to combat COVID-19 and save lives, they are unknowingly put in harm’s way by counterfeit health care products sent to the United States. Dangerous and ineffective counterfeit products put our lives and ability to combat this pandemic at risk. Congress has passed legislation crucial for preventing international trafficking of counterfeit goods that federal agencies need to immediately enforce to protect Americans from dangerous and deceptive products.
Recently, the FBI warned medical professionals of a growing number of online scams to sell fraudulent sanitizing products and personal protective equipment (PPE), such as N95 respirator masks, goggles, full-face shields, protective gowns and gloves.
Local authorities also continue to warn consumers about the dangers of fake coronavirus-related products. A Florida sheriff’s office cautioned the public against fake testing kits following a recent seizure at Los Angeles International Airport, where US Customs and Border Protection stopped bags of vials falsely labeled for coronavirus testing from entering the country.
A loophole in the international postal system lets criminals and scammers regularly send fake products into the U.S., despite a law designed to close this security gap. While foreign packages sent through private carriers must include security data that law enforcement uses to stop illicit material, international packages sent through the postal system were previously exempt from this requirement. The Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act was passed in 2018 to mandate this advance electronic data (AED) on all packages sent through the mail. However, federal agencies have continually missed numerous deadlines under the law, leaving American consumers and medical professionals vulnerable to the risks of counterfeit products.
As a result, criminals and scammers can continue to exploit this loophole and hurt Americans – a recent report from the United States Senate Finance Committee noted that the data the STOP Act mandates is “useful to target and prevent counterfeit goods.” Americans for Securing All Packages (ASAP) calls upon Congress and federal agencies to enforce the STOP Act and combat the trafficking of counterfeit products into local communities, particularly during this global crisis.
Read the full statement of the FBI here.