BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Law enforcement agencies seized over 22,000 non-FDA approved face masks and 1,000 non-FDA approved COVID-19 test kits from a Lockport manufacturing facility on Friday.
According to Homeland Security Investigations Buffalo, HSI special agents, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, and the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office seized the unapproved equipment from Sunbeam Laboratories. The company normally produces CBD products, but has switched to making hand sanitizer and face masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
HSI says the test kits and face masks were mislabeled and seized for wire fraud and in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
No criminal charges have been filed against the company or any employee, Timothy W. Hoover of Hodgson Russ LLP, attorney for SunBeam Laboratories said Friday evening, “nor have any allegations been presented to SunBeam at all,”.
“[The company] is not aware of any conduct inconsistent with its commitment to ethical business and community support,” the statement adds. “SunBeam will cooperate with any investigation and continue to serve its employees, customers, and community.”
The merchandise was seized as part of Operation Stolen Promise, a national operation aimed at combating COVID-19 fraud and other related criminal activity.
“Criminal groups that would seek to profit off of a global pandemic have no regard for the health of their potential customers,” said Kevin Kelly, special agent in charge of HSI Buffalo. “HSI and our law enforcement partners are working around the clock to warn the public of the health and safety risks involved in buying and using these fraudulent and tampered products and to ensure these unsafe products are pulled from the marketplace.”
Here are some tips HSI is offering for shopping for PPE and COVID-19 testing kits online safely:
• BEWARE of websites or individuals selling products claiming to prevent, treat, diagnose or cure COVID-19.
• DO NOT click on unsolicited emails or texts.
• ENSURE a secure browser connection: HTTPS only.
• VERIFY website trust seals before placing an order.
• REMEMBER that U.S. government websites end in .gov
• INSPECT the URL of the website to verify the destination.
• BEWARE of product information written in a foreign language or with misspellings.