The investigation began after Border Force received intelligence that counterfeit face masks were coming into the United Kingdom from Hong Kong. Two large consignments of masks were found at East Midlands Airport and Stanford Le-Hope, heading to an address in Aberdeen, Scotland.
On Thursday 14 April 2021, officers from the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit, the new North West Intellectual Property Crime Unit, and Police Scotland, attended the residential address of a 22 year old man and a storage unit in the Dyce area, and uncovered 25,000 counterfeit face masks that police believe were going to be advertised as medical grade and sold online.
A man was interviewed under caution and has been released under investigation.
Detective Sergeant Ceri Hunt, from the City of London Police, who lead the investigation said:
“Selling a fake face mask under the pretence it will keep the user safe and help stop the spread of coronavirus during a global public health crisis, shows the total disregard fraudsters have for people’s lives.
“The swift, joined-up action taken by police, Border Force and our partners across the globe, shows there are no boundaries to our work in fighting intellectual property crime and protecting the public.”
Detective Superintendent Paul Denn from the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit said:
“We’re really pleased with the results last week and glad that our action has helped to put a stop to these ruthless criminals who were trying to a make profit from selling counterfeit medical masks during a global pandemic. Not only is it damaging to the economy but it would have been extremely dangerous if these substandard goods had of made it out for public consumption.
Chris Mills, Director of Copyright and IP Enforcement for the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) said:
“The UK is recognised for having one of the best IP enforcement regimes in the world, testament to the close working relationship between all of our enforcement partners.
“Congratulations to all the agencies involved for the collaboration and swift action that led to this outstanding result.”