$350K worth of fake N95 masks seized in Houston

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HOUSTON – More than 170,000 counterfeit N95 face masks were seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Houston Seaport.

Authorities said the shipment of fake masks was created in China and was destined to White Plains, New York before CBP officers seized them on April 7. The estimated retail price for the masks was almost $350,000.

“Counterfeit goods not only hurt the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers, but they also pose substantial health and safety hazards for American consumers,” said Houston CBP Port Director Roderick Hudson. “In this instance, these counterfeit N95 respirators may not be effective at filtering airborne particles.”

When the shipment arrived at the Houston Seaport, CBP officers examined it and found 171,460 masks with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health logo on the boxes. When CBP officers contacted the trademark holder, they were advised that this shipment was not licensed, and CBP determined the masks were counterfeit.

For the Houston area of operations, CBP seized 2.1 million counterfeit PPE masks from January to March of this year, which was a stark increase from the 365,000 counterfeit face masks seized in 2020.

Hudson cautions consumers to remain alert for counterfeit and unapproved PPE.

“A few simple steps that consumers can take to protect themselves from becoming unsuspecting victims to those peddling counterfeit goods are to purchase goods only from reputable retailers,” Hudson said. “And when shopping online, read the seller’s reviews, check for a working U.S. phone number and a U.S. address that can be used to contact the seller.”

The seized counterfeit masks were turned over to the agency’s Fines, Penalties and Forfeiture’s Office for final disposition.