The availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a vital issue for healthcare workers who diagnose and treat the illness. One of the most critical items of PPE are protective masks that protect workers from inhaling droplets that contain the virus. Now, a businessman in Silicon Valley concocted a fraudulent scheme that substituted defective masks for masks that actually do what they are supposed to – prevent transmission of the virus.
The essence of the scheme is the substitution of masks made in China for masks made in the United States. According to witnesses, the man behind the scheme set up a work place in which workers making about $20/hour were ripping Chinese makes out of bags and stuffing them into bag with no warnings. The Chinese bags contained a warning stripe that said “Medical Use Prohibited.” The new bags contained no such warning. According to investigators, the new bags were intended to infiltrate Texas hospitals and care centers. The mislabeled masks are known by the designation “KN95s.”
After state and federal regulators began to look into the sale of KN95 masks, many of the resellers of the masks abandoned the market. Some of the KN95 sellers abandoned the market before government regulators shut them down.
At the moment, potential retailers of the masks in the United States seem reluctant to plunge into the mask market with no reservations. Most potential sellers are waiting to see how the federal government treats the various firms that have bought and sold these masks.
The long view
Most potential retailers want to know whether sale or importation of the masks is legal or illegal. Anyone who wants to enter the business or who has questions about its legitimacy would do well to consult an attorney experienced in importing foreign goods. A capable lawyer can provide advice on whether a proposed transaction violates federal law and whether it can be revised to comply with various federa statutes and laws.