(CNSNews.com) - The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday warned the public about counterfeit N95 masks coming here from China.
"Over the last few weeks, Homeland Security Investigations, the criminal investigative arm of ICE, has seized over 11 million counterfeit N95 respirators intended to be used by frontline health care workers throughout the nation," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced at a news conference.
Tipped off by 3M, the maker of N95 masks for medical professionals, Homeland Security Investigations announced it has arrested an unspecified number of criminals profiting off the pandemic, and the investigation is ongoing.
"Our initial criminal investigative findings have identified China as the source of the counterfeit 3M masks," said Steve Francis, the Assistant Director of HSI's Global Trade Investigations Division.
Francis said the counterfeit masks are providing a "false sense of security" to health care workers and others who go outside the normal supply chain.
Officials said HSI, through "Operation Stolen Promise," has been investigating counterfeit and substandard PPE, test kits and fake medications related to COVID since April 2020.
More than 1,800 fraudulent shipments have been seized since then.
"We just implore the public to be aware of websites or individuals selling products claiming to prevent treat diagnose or cure COVID 19," Mayorkas said. He noted that misspellings and grammatical errors are a tipoff that a product is illegitimate.