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.
.@CBP officers at the Houston Seaport seized over 171K counterfeit N95 masks arriving from China. These #fake items can pose substantial health & safety hazards for consumers. Great work by #CBP officers in Houston! To learn more, click here https://t.co/M419raA2au #CBPisReady pic.twitter.com/8SIFsI9J9O— Director of Field Operations Jud Murdock (@DFOHouston) April 15, 2021
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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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.
CBP continues to collaborate with federal partners and the trade community to facilitate the importation of legitimate medical supplies and other goods necessary for the COVID-19 response, while intercepting fraudulent and unauthorized goods.— CBP (@CBP) April 9, 2021
Learn more: https://t.co/JdR0dktaV7 pic.twitter.com/7hlEWrZyP4
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."