As if the coronavirus wasn’t enough to fill our hearts with trepidation, another crisis regarding fake COVID-19 testing kits will sure do. Throughout the pandemic, various drug rackets selling fake coronavirus drugs have been exposed. But the latest fake COVID-19 testing kits racket is the biggest racket exposed during the pandemic spanning over 77 countries. Interpol reported on 22 July that the police have seized over 17,000 fake COVID-19 testing kits in a raid against illegitimate food and drinks across dozens of countries.
The operation has been under the radar since December 2019 and was concluded in June 2020. Officials have reportedly seized substandard or fake products amounting to $40 million dollars (34.5 million euros).
Interpol, based in the famous French city Lyon, said, “The products included contaminated dairy products, meat from illegally slaughtered animals and food products falsely labeled as medicinal cures.”
Other than fake COVID-19 testing kits, the police also seized thousands of fake medical products across various countries worldwide. The fraudsters were trying to take advantage of the dire situation the world is facing and hence, supply fake or substandard medical products claiming to cure coronavirus.
Interpol Secretary General, Jurgen Stock, said, “As countries around the world continue their efforts to contain coronavirus, the criminal networks distributing these potentially dangerous products show only their determination to make a profit.”
Interpol reported that other than fake COVID-19 testing kits, there were substandard disinfectants, and a shipment of seafood from South Africa (originally from Asia) which was falsely labeled as personal protective equipment. The operation led to the arrest of 407 fraudsters across 77 countries.
Interpol further added, “Other illicit products recovered included cosmetics, footwear, clothing, handbags, car parts, electronics, tobacco and medicines worth an estimated $3.1 million.”
This International raid marked Interpol’s ninth year of coordinated Opson raids against feigned or substandard food and drink products. The organizations are notorious for conducting thousands of raids across the world seizing fake products.