ST. LOUIS — It's been a busy year for U.S. Customs and Border patrol.
This year, agents seized more than 1.3 billion dollars worth of counterfeit products entering the US. New in 2020, fake COVID-19 products, including COVID tests and so-called COVID cures are keeping agents busy.
It's a lot to keep up with. More than 2 million small packages enter the country from foreign destinations each day, according to us customs and border protections.
“The added challenge for this year actually has been the COVID-19 counterfeit issue,” said John Leonard, Executive Director of Trade Policy and Programs, at U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Leonard says the pandemic and resulting supply shortages have incentivized counterfeiters to create products that could endanger your health.
“We're seeing a lot of counterfeit N-95 masks in particular. So we've seized 13.5 million of them nationwide in this past year,” said Leonard. “They simply don't work as well.”
The CBP has also seized counterfeit cleaning products, like off-brand disinfectant wipes.
“They don't have the same effectiveness,” said Leonard.
More troubling are products claiming to cure the virus.
“Some of our seizures this past year have involved sham cures like lanyards. These necklaces that people wear that are supposed to have some properties of keeping a virus off you,” said Leonard.
Counterfeiters are also taking advantage of the great continued demand for COVID test kits.
“We've also seized almost 180,000 sham test kits for COVID-19,” said Leonard. “Most of it is made in Asia, in particular in China.”
There is some concern fake COVID vaccines may appear next.
"We're seizing them and making sure they're not getting into the US commerce," said Leonard.
Sold on trusted sites
Most of these items are ordered by consumers off popular sites like Amazon, Walmart.com and Ebay to name a few.
Leonard said these sites do their best to remove counterfeit products but they don't catch everything.
If you suspect an item you've purchased is counterfeit, you can report it to customs by clicking here.