Coronavirus: Counterfeit protective products in circulation, Europol warns
As a result of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, there has been a spike in demand for certain goods, such as protective face masks, sanitiser and medicine. This has led to an increase in the production of counterfeit goods.
Rise in coronavirus-related crime
According to Spiegel, Europol has sent police forces across the EU a report, warning about an increasing number of criminal gangs who have been selling counterfeit products. These groups are selling cheap and ineffective products, particularly face masks, to government agencies, hospitals and clinics.
The newspaper also revealed that the German government is aware of a growing number of “corona-related” crimes. The Federal Police Office has seen an increase in thefts from medical warehouses and noted that “counterfeit medicines and medical products such as protective masks and hand disinfectants against COVID-19 and alleged tests for home use are increasingly being offered on the internet.”
A black market for protective equipment
According to police in Frankfurt, a “black market for protective equipment” has appeared. Europol has been warning for a while that counterfeit products are being circulated and, due to the passing of a mandatory face mask requirement in many federal states and EU countries, only expects more counterfeit products to be produced and sold.
To try to fill the shortage of masks and other medical supplies, the German government is hoping to increase the supply of genuine products with several shipments from China. Due to the emergence of organised gangs, authorities have ordered police to guard large shipments.