CBP Has Seized Nearly 900,000 Counterfeit and Unsafe COVID-19 Supplies

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Customs officers have picked up hundreds of thousands of unapproved test kits, unproven medicines and substandard protective equipment.

As the pandemic crisis wears on, Customs and Border Protection says it has amassed a sizable collection of “counterfeit, unapproved or otherwise substandard COVID-19 products that threaten the health and safety of American consumers.”

Criminals and scammers never let a crisis go to waste, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Since the outbreak, criminals have updated classic scams, including impersonating health officials to steal personal information, price gouging and fake treatments, and newer schemes like embedding malware in tracing apps.

Fraudsters are also exploiting the shortage of resources needed to combat the virus by bringing counterfeit goods across borders.

“Among other products, these criminals are smuggling and selling counterfeit safety equipment, unapproved COVID-19 test kits, unproven medicines and substandard hygiene products through the online marketplace,” according to a CBP release.

As of June 1, CBP officers have seized nearly 900,000 COVID-19-related counterfeits, including:

  • 107,300 FDA-prohibited COVID-19 test kits in 301 incidents.
  • 750,000 counterfeit face masks in 86 incidents.
  • 2,500 EPA-prohibited anti-virus lanyards in 89 incidents.
  • 11,000 FDA-prohibited chloroquine tablets in 91 incidents.
Unauthorized test kits seized in Memphis in late May. (Customs and Border Protection)

The largest busts were at ports of entry in Baltimore, Chicago, El Paso, Los Angeles, Seattle, Rochester, New York, and Vicksburg, Mississippi.

“Criminals and other bad actors are trying to profit from the coronavirus pandemic by introducing unauthorized, unproven and potentially unsafe goods into the United States,” CBP acting Commissioner Mark Morgan said in the release. “CBP continues to target these dangerous shipments while facilitating the entry of legitimate pharmaceuticals and medical supplies that are needed to protect Americans.”