THE European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has been monitoring the activities of a number of rogue manufacturers and importers who are taking advantage of the current coronavirus crisis.
It has discovered that there are a number of fraudsters ready to import into the European Union a selection of fake medical and personal protection products including masks, disinfectants, sanitisers and test kits and it is taking action to hunt down those involved and stop them.
As well as being ineffective against the virus, these products also fail to comply with EU standards, potentially damaging health. For instance, they could provoke a dangerous bacterial contamination, so preventing these fake products from entering Europe is crucial to protect citizens against the virus.
OLAF says that the lure of profit motivates these people and has recently seen counterfeit masks which have been offered online in different EU Member States at prices ranging between €5 and €10, approximately three times the normal price.
Sadly, fake face masks packaged to appeal to children are also being ruthlessly smuggled.
Evidence suggests that these counterfeit products enter Europe through online sales and are brought into our homes via genuine postal or courier services.
They also arrive in containers with fake certificates, are declared as other products, and then find their way into the normal distribution channels, or are sold on the black market.
Until the currently imposed travel bans, they even arrived smuggled through the border in suitcases of air passengers, or smuggled through the land borders.
Consumers are encouraged to be very careful about only buying such items from reputable sources.