The customs authorities in Hong Kong on Friday said they had seized 100,000 suspected counterfeit medical-grade face masks and arrested one person.
“Initial investigations revealed that unscrupulous merchants intended to transship the batch of masks overseas for sale and profit,” the government said in a statement. The masks had an estimated market value of about $387,000.
Customs agents were investigating the source of the masks and sent samples to a laboratory for safety testing, it added. Anyone convicted of selling or possessing goods with forged trademarks could be punished with fines of up to $64,000 and a maximum of five years’ in prison.
Fake or defective masks could be dangerous because of their inefficacy in filtering particles while giving wearers a false sense of security.
In Hong Kong, 80 people have been arrested in similar operations, and suspected counterfeit goods, including nearly six million surgical masks, over 300 bottles of disinfectant alcohol and 23 bottles of saline solution, were seized, according to the government. Earlier this year in mainland China, the leader of a Beijing-based pharmacy chain was sentenced to 15 years in jail for selling fake masks as demand soared during the pandemic.