Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Unsplash

Mar. 9 2021, Published 2:33 p.m. ET

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 Stopping the spread — of fake masks 

Last week, U.S. Customs and Borders Protection agents seized thousands of fake N95 masks headed to the U.S. N95 masks are medical coverings and become scarce during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Agents at O'Hare International Airport seized 136 boxes of the fake masks, which had the 3M company logo. 

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The masks were heading to a company in Virginia, according to the customs agency. 

In total, agents seized more than 65,000 masks. If the coverings were real, they would have a current value of slightly more than $400,000. 

The fake masks came from Colombia and agents inspected the shipment to determine if it could be admitted to the U.S., according to the agency. Officers noticed an unfamiliar chemical smell coming from the masks and grammatical errors on the packaging. 

Officials say during the pandemic, criminals have exploited the market to sell counterfeit, unapproved and unsafe medical equipment. 

“These counterfeit masks are extremely dangerous and provide a false sense of security to American consumers,” Hans Leiterman, Assistant Area Port Director-Chicago, said in announcing the seizure. “Unfortunately, there is no shortage of bad actors out there trying to take advantage of consumers during a global pandemic.”   


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