The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) announced Tuesday that Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents have seized more than 900 shipments of counterfeit or substandard medical equipment and supplies, including kits. of test and supposed treatments for COVID-19.
The agency made the announcement to commemorate 100 days since the April launch of Operation Stolen Promise, aimed at “protecting the Homeland from the growing and growing threat posed by fraud and criminal activity related to COVID-19.”
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In addition to seizing hundreds of shipments, HSI said its agents had initiated 570 criminal investigations and made 53 arrests. Agents have also seized more than $ 7 million in “illicit earnings”, including $ 2.2 million obtained through fraud related to the CARES Act.
“Although there are no approved treatments for COVID-19, that doesn’t stop scammers from illegally trying to sell these products and other falsified or banned medical supplies and test kits to American consumers,” said Alyssa Erichs, acting acting director of HSI. statement.
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Those arrested include a Washington state doctor who authorities say “fraudulently sought more than $ 3 million in Check Protection Program (PPP) loans.” A Georgia woman was also arrested after trying to import and sell unregistered pesticides that she alleges would protect people from COVID-19.
“We are seeing an increase in fraud from the CARES Act that has doubled since June,” said Erichs. “We are encouraging everyone to be more cautious, especially when they go online and meet the red flags, to avoid becoming victims of fraud.”