Beware of Counterfeits and Fake COVID-19 Cures

“You, sir, are the scion of an ancestral procession of idiots stretching back to the Missing Link,”

Mark Twain spared no courtesy when it came to reprimanding counterfeiters and merchants of fake medical cures. In a 1905 letter to a snake oil peddler he wrote “You, sir, are the scion of an ancestral procession of idiots stretching back to the Missing Link,” among other things.

Twain would have similar choice words for those selling counterfeit medical devices and fake cures in response to the global COVID-19. With skyrocketing demand for face masks, sanitizing wipes, and soaps, a black-market for counterfeit items has spawned to take advantage of consumers. Fake cures have been found all around the world, and can be very expensive. These facemasks are of lower quality and may not protect against the COVID-19 virus, potentially causing life threatening situations for consumers.

Organizations such as the Center for Disease Control  warn consumers the COVID-19 virus is much smaller than the filtration most counterfeit masks provide, and many other legal masks designed for pollutants do not actually filter out the virus. The CDC says only the N95 respiratory face masks will be helpful in prevention. While the counterfeit and substandard products sold online will not.

Already Amazon has removed more than one million COVID-19 related product listings. At one point, the second most searched item on the online retailer known for arts and crafts, Etsy, was “face mask for germs.” Craigslist ads have featured multiple strange items such as COVID-19 proof including gas masks, lab coats, and vodka. Price gouging is another problem US online marketplaces are facing, with one instance of a 2 pack of Purell hand sanitizer going for $350.  Customs and Border Protection officers intercepted fake COVID-19 test kits inbound from the UK at Los Angeles airport, valued at $196.81.  COVID-19 counterfeits can be found everywhere, so it is important to be safe when considering products related to your health.

Though wearing masks may seem helpful, the CDC still recommends washing hands as the primary defense against contracting COVID-19 more than anything. Do not fall for modern snake oil salesman. Make purchases coming from a trusted producer and seller. This is why brands and the intellectual property rules that protect them are so valuable, in a sea of fake products and misinformation consumers can rely on the brands that have earned their trust through producing quality products and services.

Photo Credit:  katie chao and ben muessig