The European Union fraud agency OLAF has seized millions of health products with counterfeit EU certifications as criminals attempt to take advantage of the Wuhan coronavirus crisis.
OLAF’s Director-General Ville Itälä said the agency had seen fake EU certifications on everything from medical masks to medicine and respirators since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
“The introduction of unauthorised care equipment has increased dramatically. Demand for these products rose sky-high, and fraudsters were attracted by the potentially huge illegal profits one can make,” Itälä said.
“The main characteristic of the fraud is to sell products with certificates obtained from bodies that do not actually have the authority to certify these products, or where the certificates have been issued under unclear circumstances but are allegedly in accordance with EU certification,” he added, according to SVT.
Faulty Chinese Masks Force More than 1,000 Spanish Medics into Isolation https://t.co/GRu3bSQTf4
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Thousands of substandard masks, many originally from China, have been reported in several EU member states. This week, Sweden’s Västernorrland Region reported 6,000 masks were distributed across the region that have since been revealed not to pass proper standards. The face covers, like so many others deemed faulty, were imported from China.
“In one Member State, hundreds of thousands of masks were withdrawn and confiscated when they had already arrived at the stores in several hospitals and were just about to be distributed to healthcare staff,” Mr Itälä said. But OLAF’s director-general noted that in some cases, the equipment had already been distributed before the flaws were found.
“Unfortunately, in another country, it was too late, and healthcare personnel were infected with the virus because the personal protective equipment purchased by the authorities was substandard,” he said.
Along with selling counterfeit or faulty medical goods, some organised crime gangs have sought to profit from the coronavirus pandemic by stockpiling items such as masks. In Greece, a mafia boss was caught hoarding 11 tonnes of antiseptic gel in a warehouse near Athens.