$350,000 worth of fake N95 masks seized at Houston Seaport

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A shipment carrying almost $350,000 worth of fake N95 masks was seized at the Houston Seaport.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the shipment came from China and was headed to White Plains, New York, before officers intercepted it on Tuesday, April 7.



All of the masks had fake National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) logos, according to authorities.

"When CBP officers contacted the trademark holder, they were advised that this shipment was not licensed, and CBP determined the masks were in fact counterfeit," read a statement issued by CBP on Thursday.

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Authorities believe the retail value of the masks was over $600,000, and they were meant for hospital workers on the east coast



As people continue to try to stay safe during the pandemic, CBP says scammers are taking advantage. In the first three months of 2021, CBP says they've seized 18 million counterfeit face masks.



That's 6 million more than the total of fake masks they seized in all of 2020. In 2019, only 1,300 counterfeit face masks were found, authorities said.

So how can you spot a fake mask and what should you do if you come across counterfeit and unapproved PPE?

"A few simple steps that consumers can take to protect themselves from becoming unsuspecting victims to those peddling counterfeit goods are to purchase goods only from reputable retailers," said Houston CBP Port Director, Roderick Hudson. "And when shopping online, read the seller's reviews, check for a working U.S. phone number and a U.S. address that can be used to contact the seller."
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