Thousands of fake coronavirus tests, medicine seized in federal investigation


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)– Buffalo Homeland Security Investigations announced Wednesday that locally it’s confiscated approximately 6,000 fraudulent COVID-19 test kits, 3,400 N95 masks, and thousands of purported treatment pills during Operation Stolen Promise, a national operation aimed at combatting COVID-19 fraud and other related criminal activity. 

More than $110,000 in illicit funds tied to COVID-19 fraud have been seized.

“The unfortunate reality is there are criminal enterprises actively exploiting Americans while they are at their most vulnerable,” said HSI Buffalo Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kelly. “But these heartless criminal groups should be forewarned that while some aspects of regular life have been temporarily paused, HSI and CBP are still actively and aggressively pursuing those who operate these illicit schemes.”

HSI launched the operation in April. It partnered with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to investigate illegal criminal activity surrounding the pandemic and protect the public.

“CBP and HSI are partners in combating cross-border illegal activity,” said Buffalo Field Office Director Rose Brophy.  “We will continue to work together to protect the public from those who are attempting to profit from this pandemic.”   

Nationally, agents have opened over 315 investigations; seized over $3.2 million dollars in illicit proceeds; made 11 arrests; executed 21 search warrants; analyzed over 19,000 COVID-19 domain names; and worked alongside U.S. Customs and Border Protection to seize 494 shipments of mislabeled, fraudulent, unauthorized or prohibited COVID-19 test kits, treatment kits, homeopathic remedies, purported anti-viral products and personal protective equipment (PPE) as of May 4.

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