Over the last few weeks, federal agents have seized more than 10 million counterfeit 3M brand N95 masks.
The masks have not been tested to see if they meet N95 standards, Homeland Security officials said on Wednesday, and could harm first responders treating COVID-19 patients. "Not only do they give a false sense of security, how dangerous is the exposed individual without any protective gear?" Homeland Security Secretary Ali Mayorkas said. "They have no utility whatsoever."
3M is one of the largest producers of the N95 mask, and some hospitals and medical facilities that are desperate for personal protective equipment have ended up dealing with scammers after going around the normal supply chain. On Wednesday, Homeland Security agents seized hundreds of thousands of fake 3M masks from an East Coast warehouse that were about to be sent out.
About 7,000 federal agents have been investigating counterfeit mask scams during the pandemic, and have made more than 200 arrests while seizing $33 million worth of fake masks. Investigators have contacted about 6,000 possible victims in more than a dozen states to ask them to stop using the masks they have, The Associated Press reports.