Illegitimate Coronavirus Tests, Masks Seized: Baltimore Customs

Elizabeth Janney
·2 min read

BALTIMORE, MD — Counterfeit or unapproved coronavirus medications, test kits and face masks have been seized in bulk at the Port of Baltimore and other locations in the Mid-Atlantic, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.

In the past several months, authorities said they seized an "astonishing" amount of goods, the most common being face masks.

Officials said 58,846 face masks have been confiscated for trademark violations, featuring cartoon characters, sports teams, vehicle manufacturers and designer brands, among others.

Had they been authentic, the masks would have had a suggested retail value of more than $2.5 million, according to federal authorities.

More than 600 face masks were seized at the Port of Baltimore. They were imprinted with counterfeit Nike, Adidas and Fila logos as well as those depicting the Liverpool and Manchester City football clubs, among others.

"Scammers will take advantage of an international pandemic to line their greedy pockets by peddling illicit and potentially dangerous products as legitimate COVID-19 personal protective equipment," said Casey Durst, director of field operations for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s Baltimore field office.

According to officials, the products are often made with subpar materials in unregulated facilities.

The largest shipment of counterfeit face masks came to the Port of Pittsburgh, where more than 17,200 face masks arrived from Hong Kong, postmarked for Allegheny County, Pa. Had they not been seized on Sept. 1, federal officials reported the masks — which bore logos like Gucci, Chanel, Coach, Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton — could have retailed for $990,320.

Counterfeit coronavirus-related products have come to the United States from Finland, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Vietnam, authorities reported. The parcels were marked to go to addresses in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, officials said.

“The volume of counterfeit COVID-19 facemasks is astonishing," Durst said. “Customs and Border Protection officers remain committed to working with our consumer safety partners and protecting American consumers by intercepting these potentially harmful shipments.”

Since mid-August, customs and border patrol officers say they have seized the following from ports of Philadelphia; Baltimore; Washington; Harrisburg, Pa.; Pittsburgh; and Wilmington, Del.:

  • 58,846 counterfeit face masks

  • 916 tablets of coronavirus-related medications

  • 134 coronavirus test kits and antibody tests

The test kits and medications are not authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and cannot be admitted to the United States.

Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, customs officials did not provide specifics about the various seizures.

This article originally appeared on the Baltimore Patch