OLAF kicks off enquiry into fake antivirus goods

To prevent fraudsters to profit from the high market demand due to Coronavirus outbreak, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has opened a case in relation to the imports of fake masks, medical devices, disinfectants, sanitisers and test kits. 

OLAF warned that such antivirus items are ineffective or even detrimental to health and provoke a dangerous bacterial contamination. The office is working together with national customs administrations to prevent these dangerous counterfeit or prohibited products entering the EU.

Since the very beginning of the pandemic, the EU’s anti-fraud office has been collecting intelligence and information on this illicit trafficking, working in close contact with competent authorities in Member States and third countries. OLAF is providing information to all EU countries in real time.

Counterfeit masks have been offered online in different EU Member States at prices ranging between €5 and €10, approximately three times the normal price. Fake face masks for children are also being ruthlessly smuggled, OLAF stated.

The empirical evidence suggests that the counterfeit products enter Europe through online sales and are brought into our homes via postal or courier services. Nevertheless, they also arrive in containers with fake certificates, or 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 also arrived smuggled through the border in suitcases of air passengers, or smuggled through the land borders.


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