Counterfeit Medicine News for the week of December 14, 2020

COVID-19 counterfeits and fraud:

Make sure your COVID vaccine is safe and effective.  Learn more.

Health Canada and Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer were among many trusted sources warning people not to buy newly approved COVID-19 vaccines online, where organized crime is already offering fakes

Legitimate COVID-19 vaccines are only available through pharmacists and medical practices and authorities like these in California  are working hard to dispense them based on public health priorities. Learn more on the Centers for Disease Control’s COVID-19 vaccine page.

The Federal Trade Commission and other agencies continue to warn more broadly about #COVIDscams. 

The European Anti-Fraud Office reported that almost 140,000 liters (roughly 37,000 gallons) of dangerous hand sanitizer had been seized in the European Union since March 2020. 

Counterfeit News:


Alton Chatmon of Bridgeton, New Jersey, a former pharmacist, pleaded guilty in federal court to filling 1.6 million pills worth of orders for illegally imported Tramadol and Fioricet for an unlicensed online pharmacy. Chatmon also admitted laundering over $1.5 million of these proceeds through a series of shell companies. 

A man in Rush City, Minnesota has been charged with third-degree murder after he allegedly sold a Ham Lake resident the counterfeit fentanyl pills that killed him in mid-May 2020.

The U.S. Attorney's Office of the Western District of Washington indicted 11 people who allegedly distributed counterfeit fentanyl pills and other illicit drugs in Pierce, King, and Snohomish Counties.

Authorities in San Francisco, California charged eight East Bay residents for their alleged roles in a drug trafficking ring. Court records say that they sold more than 1,000 fentanyl pills and heroin to an undercover DEA agent. The prosecution is part of a larger federal initiative that seeks to control crime in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood.  

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Murfreesboro Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) arrested and charged a 25-year-old Rutherford County man for allegedly selling counterfeit pills made with fentanyl.

The Eastern District of Michigan charged a Watauga, Texas woman with importing an industrial chemical called DNP and selling it as a supplement online. DNP, which is sometimes sold as a weight loss drug, may cause dehydration, cataracts, liver damage and death. The FDA declared it not fit for human consumption in 1938.

DEA agents arrested two men after they discovered methamphetamine, pills, a pill press and other pill-making supplies in their Vallejo, California home. 

CBP intercepted the kind of drugs Alton Chapman was selling In this March 2020 seizure at JFK Airport. (Source: Twitter)

Counterfeit Viagra pills seized in Long Beach in December 2020. (Source: CBP)


CBP and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) worked with the Los Angeles Police Department to seize more than one million erectile dysfunction pills and counterfeit footwear, belts, purses and headphones stores in cargo shipments from China.

Customs and Border Protections agents in Calexico, California seized almost 200 pills made of cocaine concealed in a  kettlebell which had been thrown over the border wall with Mexico.


The FDA warned U.S. residents not to use nearly 50 different kinds of male enhancement or weight-loss supplements available on Amazon and eBay. The products contain undeclared  pharmaceutical ingredients that could pose significant health risks.  Find links to lists of the adulterated supplements on the FDA’s Medication Health Fraud page.  

Officials in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada issued a warning about counterfeit oxycodone and Percocet made with fentanyl.


We at PSM extend condolences to Florence, South Carolina resident Norma McCutcheon, to lost her daughter, Nikki Christmas, to a counterfeit fentanyl pill in November 2017. 

PSM is keeping a steady eye on public reports of dangerous counterfeit drugs and other medical products. Check back for next week’s summary.