Coronavirus

Fake Handbags Are One Thing, But Now Feds Warn of Counterfeit COVID Vaccines and PPE

Ahead of the holidays, officials want shoppers to beware of what they buy, and if a deal on anything — clothes, electronics and even medication or a coronavirus vaccine — is too good to be true, it's probably a fake

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Designer sunglasses and handbags, gold Rolex watches, Yeezy sneakers — all things that are commonly counterfeited in order to make a quick buck on unsuspecting customers, especially during the holiday shopping season.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said goods like those are often shipped with legitimate items, in order to avoid detection.

"Here at JFK (Airport) alone in fiscal year 2020, CBP processed more than 73 million importations, valued at over a billion dollars," said Sal Ingrassia, the Acting Port Director for Customs and Border Protection.

Counterfeiting is a big business that harms legitimate commerce and helps criminal networks, the Department of Homeland Security says. But now the feds are warning against other fakes that are much more sinister, and potentially dangerous

Officials said that counterfeit medicine and personal protective equipment are already rampant, and officials fear that false COVID-19 vaccines may be next.

"COVID-19 vaccines will not be available outside regular distribution networks, however these criminal organizations will try to sell you otherwise," said Special Agent in Charge Erik Rosenblatt. "This pandemic has created a massive market for these criminal organizations."

Ahead of the holidays, officials want shoppers to beware of what they buy, and if a deal on anything — whether it's clothes, electronics or even medication or a coronavirus vaccine — is too good to be true, it's probably a fake.

"The market is flooded with counterfeit consumer goods sold online, in stores and on street corners," Rosenblatt said. "Not only ripping off consumers and providing shoddy, dangerous products, but also potentially putting your health and personal financial information at risk."

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