France has ordered a billion protective masks from China to face the Covid-19 pandemic. But fraudsters and other crooks from all countries did not wait to manufacture and sell masks and counterfeit medicines, which are therefore dangerous.
As we will see in a video published on youtube.com (below), more or less clandestine clothing workshops, as in India, appear everywhere and make millions of masks in poor hygienic conditions. These masks are then resold by criminal networks.
In Italy, local mafias have taken over this particularly juicy market. On Friday 27 March 2020, 110,000 masks without any certificate of conformity were seized by the Florence police. They were intended for pharmacies.
As the newspaper Infosannio writes, the coronavirus epidemic and the compulsory confinement have temporarily dried up the drug market in the city of Naples. But also the revenue from the slot machines in the casinos controlled by the Camorra, Naples’ main mafia organisation. The mafia quickly converted. Masks and disinfectant products, which are so lacking in Naples as in much of Italy, appeared on the squares and were sold on the black market.
In Palermo, hydro-alcoholic gels and other counterfeit health products (false logo and false origin) are sold in the vending machines of a mini-market. They have been seized.
37 criminal groups
But the fraud market is not just about Italy. The bulk of fake face masks, disinfectant gels and other health products are mainly sold over the Internet. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen recently reminded us of this: “Go to reliable sites. The market for health product fraud is worth at least 4 billion euros a year. »
Europol, the European Police Office, recently participated in a global operation on the sale of counterfeit medicines that involved 90 countries around the world. An operation that resulted in the seizure of more than 4.4 million units of counterfeit medicines, the arrest of 121 people, the closure of 2 500 web pages and the detection and dismantling of 37 criminal groups.
But tragedies could occur if a vaccine against the coronavirus is developed soon. Citizens might be tempted to obtain it on websites belonging to criminal groups that have no qualms about selling counterfeit and therefore dangerous vaccines.