Customs and Border Protection seize over 20K fake N95 masks in Boston

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intercepted more than 20,000 counterfeit N95 masks in Boston this month after targeting a "suspicious shipment arriving from Hong Kong."

Officers detained a shipment of 43 boxes that appeared to have counterfeit N95 respirator masks on Sept. 2, according to a press release.

The counterfeit masks were taken to the International Cargo Port where teams from CBP's Apparel, Footwear and Textile Center of Excellence and Expertise evaluated the roughly 20,400 items.

Specialists found the counterfeit items to have an appraised value of $163,200.

"Counterfeit personal protective equipment puts frontline workers and the general public's health at risk," said Michael Denning, director of field operations for the Boston Field Office. "CBP Officers and our trade teams are trained to identify and intercept these dangerous goods before they can do harm to our communities and the American consumer."

CBP said certain organizations are attempting to exploit the limited supply and increased demand for personal protective equipment and other pharmaceutical and medical goods needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency added fraudulent groups are using online marketplaces as a vessel to send counterfeit equipment and supplies overseas.

CBP warned that shipments of counterfeit products the agency targets typically include false or misleading claims or lack required warning signs and proper approvals.

In January, the Trump administration announced a massive crackdown on counterfeit products coming from online marketplaces, as the Department of Homeland Security noted, "Today, counterfeits are being trafficked through vast e-commerce supply chains in concert with marketing, sales, and distribution networks."