Man nabbed over suspected sale of fake respirators worth over $200,000
In a first here, the authorities have arrested a 34-year-old man for his alleged involvement in the online sales of suspected counterfeit respirators, after more than 41,000 units were seized in an operation.
The medical-grade equipment is important for protecting healthcare workers in the fight against Covid-19. The man is believed to have procured them from foreign sources, the police and Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said in a joint statement yesterday.
Last May, HSA removed more than 1,700 online listings of products making false claims related to Covid-19. Almost half, or 47 per cent, involved medical devices such as test kits and respirators.
The suspected trademark- infringing respirators, with an estimated street value of over $201,000, were seized during an operation on April 12 led by the Criminal Investigation Department and supported by HSA officers.
"Tests are being conducted on the seized respirators to ascertain if they are counterfeit," the joint statement said.
Under the Health Products Act, anyone found guilty of importing or supplying counterfeit health products can be fined up to $100,000 and imprisoned for a maximum of three years.
Under the Trade Marks Act, those convicted of selling or distributing goods with falsely applied trademarks may be fined a maximum of $100,000, and jailed for up to five years.
"Consumers are advised to avoid buying health products such as respirators from dubious or unfamiliar sources," the joint statement added.
These sources, which include unknown online websites, could sell items that are counterfeit, unsafe, of poor quality, or manufactured under unhygienic conditions, the authorities said.
Counterfeit masks have flooded the market, including in the US. In February, hospitals, medical institutions and government agencies in at least five states purchased millions of counterfeit masks thinking they were genuine.
Some were used by healthcare workers in Washington state, which has seen more than 390,000 infections to date.