THURSDAY, Feb. 18, 2021 (HealthDay News) — More than 10 million counterfeit N95 masks have been confiscated by U.S. officials in recent weeks.
The seizures were made under an ongoing investigation into bogus masks sold in at least five states to hospitals, medical facilities, and government agencies, the Associated Press reported. About 6,000 potential purchasers in at least 12 states have been notified they may have unknowingly bought the fake masks and should not use them.
“Not only do they give a false sense of security, how dangerous is the exposed individual without any protective gear? They have no utility whatsoever,” Homeland Security Secretary Ali Mayorkas said of the counterfeit masks, the AP reported.
Fraud remains a major problem during the pandemic as scammers seek to exploit hospitals and desperate Americans. Federal investigators say they have seen an increase in phony websites purporting to sell vaccines as well as fake medicine produced overseas and scams involving personal protective equipment. The schemes deliver phony products, unlike earlier in the pandemic when fraudsters focused more on fleecing customers, the AP reported.
3M is among the largest global producers of the N95 mask, which has been approved by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. It is considered the gold standard in protection against the coronavirus. The company delivered some 2 billion N95 masks in 2020 as the pandemic grew worse. Medical workers and companies should go to the 3M website to learn how to identify fake masks, U.S. officials said.
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