Millions of fake N95 face masks were purchased - and in some cases used - by hospitals, medical facilities, and government agencies in five states, according to The New York Times and various media outlets.
Many of the masks were stamped with the 3M logos and shipped in boxes that said “Made in the USA” even though neither claim is true, said the NYT citing federal investigators with Homeland Security.
News of the investigation first broke in the Associated Press. 3M is a major American manufacturer of professional-grade face masks. The company has produced billions of masks since the start of the pandemic.
The copycat masks are dangerous because they may not provide the same level of protection as the N95 made by 3M.
About 2 million of the counterfeit masks were sent to Washington where hospitals bought thousands of them, the NYT reported. Fake masks were also discovered in Minnesota, where 3M is based. It is not clear in which other three states the false masks were delivered.
Since the start of the pandemic, law enforcement officials have seized many phony COVID-19 related products including testing kits, ventilators, and protective gear.
The fake face masks most likely made it to the U.S. through companies that claimed to be medical suppliers but were typically selling copycat N95 masks out of China. Officials are still trying to track down the source of the fakes.
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