Agents seize unauthorized test kits, face masks in Lockport

COVID-19 rapid test kit
Photo credit Homeland Security Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – (WBEN) - Federal agents seized more than 22,000 non-FDA approved KN-95 masks and 1,000 non-FDA approved COVID-19 test kits Friday from Sunbeam Labs in Lockport, New York, as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. The test kits and face masks were mislabeled and seized for wire fraud and in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Homeland Security special agents, in collaboration with the Department of Justice, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP),  and other law enforcement partners, seized this merchandise as part of Operation Stolen Promise. 

In April, HSI launched Operation Stolen Promise to prevent and investigate illegal criminal activity surrounding the pandemic, strengthen global supply-chain security and protect the American public. Operation Stolen Promise combines HSI’s expertise in global trade, financial fraud, international operations and cyber-crime to investigate financial fraud schemes, the importation of prohibited pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, websites defrauding consumers, and any other illicit criminal activities associated with the virus that compromises legitimate trade or financial systems or endangers the public.

Since commencement of the initiative, HSI Buffalo special agents have opened several investigations and seized various fraudulent COVID-19 related merchandise.

“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.”

“The production and sale of unapproved masks and fake test kits not only harms legitimate manufacturers of such products, but even more egregiously, jeopardizes the health and safety of those who are duped into using them,” stated James P. Kennedy, Jr., United States Attorney for the Western District of New York.  “We have a zero tolerance policy for this dangerous type of fraud, and working with our partners in law enforcement, we will use every tool available to protect our already vulnerable populace.”

“CBP officers identified counterfeit items being shipped into the U.S. and through the efforts of our law enforcement partners at HSI, a fraudulent scheme was thwarted,” said Buffalo Field Office Director Rose Brophy.  “CBP, HSI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are committed to ensuring the safety of the public and preventing unsuspecting customers from being sold potentially dangerous goods.”