Mask manufacturer 3M Company is suing five vendors who have been allegedly trying to dupe US government officials with fraudulent offers of selling non-existent N95 respirators at inflated prices. This is the second time that 3M Company is suing a company in recent times for price gouging and trying to sell fake N95 masks.
The fast-spreading coronavirus has seen a global supply crunch of protective gear including N95 respirators. While a number of companies have joined forces with the respective governments to ramp up production of masks and ventilators, a lot of scammers across the world are trying to take advantage of the situation and trying to sell protective gear with fraudulent offers.
Vendors tried to sell fake masks
3M Company said that it has sued five vendors who had allegedly been trying to sell N95 masks that were nonexistent. They were trying to sell the respirators to government officials in Florida, Wisconsin and Indiana at highly inflated prices. The vendors have no connection with 3M and claims made by the vendors were totally baseless.
3M Company said that one of the vendors besides price gouging made claims to officials in Florida that they have up to five billion N95 respirators and tried to affiliate themselves with 3M. N95 masks are in high demand in the US given their shortage due to rising cases of coronavirus positive cases.
The company also said that it is continuously making efforts to protect the public and combat fraud and counterfeiting. "We will continue to take legal action in cases like these and are working closely with national and international law enforcement to help stop the perpetrators of these unlawful and unethical schemes."
Not the first lawsuit by 3M
There is an acute crisis of N95 respirators globally. Health officials in the United States have been struggling due to a dearth of protective gear including N95 masks. N95 respirators are designed to filter 95% of airborne particles, which are most in demand by healthcare professionals to fight coronavirus.
Last month, 3M Company said that it would ramp up the production of N95 respirators and import more face masks into the United States after President Donald Trump slammed the company and ordered the manufacturing giant to produce more face masks to fight the deadly coronavirus.
The shortage of respirators has also seen a surge in fraudulent companies trying to dupe public and the government. Last month, 3M sued Performance Supply LLC, a New Jersey-based company accusing it of violating their trademark and price gouging by selling fake N95 respirators at 600% higher than the marked price. The company also fraudulently represented itself as an authorized distributor of the N95 masks and trying to sell them to New York City one of the hardest-hit by the coronavirus.