Alerts about fake face mask sellers reiterated as cities mandate use

Alerts about fake face mask sellers reiterated as cities mandate use
Face masks (Source: Pixabay)

(WAFB) - Warnings about scammers hoping to cash in on members of the public seeking face coverings online are being recirculated as officials mandate face mask usage in various American cities.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana joined that growing list of cities Wednesday, July 1, after East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome signed an executive order requiring all employees and visitors of businesses to wear a face-covering while in the area or performing an activity that involves close contact with other members of the public.

In some cities, like Baton Rouge, violators of those mandates can face penalties which can include a misdemeanor summons and a fine to be determined by a judge.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB), in February, said it’s important shoppers don’t get so caught up in the rush of getting a mask that they miss red flags that would normally alert them to a scam.

Numerous folks reported to the BBB that they’d fallen victim to online shops claiming to sell masks by February.

“One person reported ordering nearly $200 in masks and received no product or response from the seller,” the BBB reported.

“‘I checked back a few times over the past week to see if there was updated information on a shipping date, but never got more information than that ‘the order was being processed,’” the victim told the BBB.

These types of scams can turn shoppers into victims of identity theft by stealing personal and credit card information.

Besides online sales, U.S. officials reported seizing masks designed to be sold at higher prices than necessary.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers assigned to the Ports of New Orleans and Shreveport seized more than 2,000 unapproved face masks bearing counterfeit designer logos in June.

A shipment discovered in New Orleans contained 1,208 face masks with Burberry, Supreme, and Gucci logos. Similar cases have been reported across the country.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection says 2,000 counterfeit designer masks were seized in New Orleans and Shreveport on June 9 and 10.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection says 2,000 counterfeit designer masks were seized in New Orleans and Shreveport on June 9 and 10. (Source: CBP)
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Cincinnati seized 2,000 counterfeit 3M masks bound for Austin, Texas, late last month. Counterfeit personal protective equipment is a huge problem, putting lives at risk. (Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Cincinnati seized 2,000 counterfeit 3M masks bound for Austin, Texas, late last month. Counterfeit personal protective equipment is a huge problem, putting lives at risk. (Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection) (Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

The BBB says it’s important to consider the following tips when shopping for masks.

  • Be savvy about product claims. Be sure to evaluate claims of any medical product before buying. Especially watch out for products claiming to offer a “miracle cure” for a range of ailments.
  • Only buy from reputable stores and websites. The best way to avoid getting scammed is to buy them directly from a seller you know and trust.
  • Be sure the store has working contact info: If a company seems legitimate but you aren’t familiar with it, be extra careful with your personal information. Before offering up your name, address, and credit card information, make sure the company is legitimate. A real street address, a working customer service number, a positive BBB Business Profile… these are just a few of the things to be looking out for to determine if a company is legitimate.
  • As the disease spreads, be wary of other coronavirus cons: Look out for fake cures, phony prevention measures, and other scams. 

Federal authorities maintain a growing list of companies flagged for selling unproven treatments and phony preventative products for COVID-19. View the list by clicking the link here.

Another scheme federal officials warned about involves cards that allegedly exempt the holder from ordinances that require face coverings.

The cards are not legitimate, federal officials said. Authorities say all official information issued on the topic is available on ADA.gov.

The FBI published an alert saying it’s important to report these types of schemes immediately to the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline by calling (866) 720-5721 or clicking the link here.

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