11M Counterfeit N95 Masks Seized

More 'enforcement actions' are expected in the coming weeks
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2021 5:25 PM CST
DHS Seizes 11 Million Counterfeit N95 Masks
A counterfeit N95 surgical mask.   (ICE via AP)

The DHS announced Wednesday that it has seized more than 11 million counterfeit 3M N95 masks during raids over the past few weeks, CNBC reports. The masks were meant for frontline workers, per the Washington Post. "That individuals, criminals exploit our vulnerabilities for a quick buck is something that we will continue to aggressively pursue," DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said at a press conference. Agents have served search warrants in five states, "with more enforcement actions expected in coming weeks," he said.

Operation Stolen Promise—a collaboration between the DHS, other agencies, and partners in the private sector—was launched in April to investigate fraud related to the pandemic, per CNBC. Leads provided by 3M spurred the investigation into counterfeit masks. "This collaboration has helped prevent millions of counterfeit respirators from reaching frontline workers," the company said in a statement. About 6,000 potential victims, including hospitals, in at least 12 states have been notified that they may have bought masks from a "criminal enterprise," Mayorkas said. (More COVID-19 stories.)

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