The Wall Street Journal: ICE partners with Amazon, 3M and Pfizer to identify counterfeit coronavirus gear

The Wall Street Journal

Agency says partnership with big companies will curtail imports of suspect masks and test kits


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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and companies including 3M Co., Amazon.com Inc. and Pfizer Inc. said they are working together to curtail the flood of counterfeit masks, coronavirus tests and other equipment entering the country.

“It poses a serious health concern to the American public when they are wearing face masks that they think have the protection of N95 masks but are really substandard,” Steve Francis, director of ICE’s National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, said in an interview. ICE is a division of the Department of Homeland Security. N95 masks are named for the 95% of very small particles they are certified to block, including droplets containing the virus.

The agency said it had identified more than 19,000 suspect Covid-19-related domain names with the help of the companies in the partnership and is working to take many of them down. U.S. Customs has seized nearly 500 shipments of unauthorized products, including protective equipment and products that purport to test for the disease or treat it, ICE said. And Homeland Security agents have opened 315 investigations and made 11 arrests of people allegedly selling or shipping improper goods.

Francis said companies from different sectors and parts of the supply chain are lending their expertise to the effort, including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
GOOGL,
+1.97%

, Citigroup Inc.
C,
-2.59%

and Merck & Co.
MRK,
+1.49%

, in addition to 3M
MMM,
-0.65%

, Amazon
AMZN,
+0.07%

and Pfizer.
PFE,
+2.36%

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

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