Counterfeit Medicine News for February 8, 2021

COVID-19 counterfeits and fraud:

Boxes of counterfeit masks seized in Queens, New York  (Source: Queens District Attorney's Office)

Homeland Security Investigations announced the investigation of a large counterfeit N95 mask operation which sold fake 3M masks to hospitals, medical facilities and government agencies in at least five states.

Authorities discovered 1.7 million counterfeit N95 masks in a warehouse in Queens, New York.

A New Jersey company filed suit against a cosmetics company in Charleston, South Carolina that allegedly sold hundreds of thousands of fake protective face masks for medical professionals, falsely claiming that they were approved by federal regulators.

Three Baltimore, Maryland men have been charged with wire fraud after they allegedly created a replica of Moderna's website to collect payments from COVID-19 vaccine buyers.

Counterfeit News:

In partnership with three domain name registries, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) disabled nearly 30 websites selling opioid medicines illegally.


A federal judge in the Eastern District of Washington sentenced Spokane resident Todd Earl Bridges to more than 15 years in prison for trafficking methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl-laced pills in the Spokane area.

A state jury in Colorado indicted 64 people for their roles in a drug trafficking operation with ties to Mexico. Over the course of the investigation, which began in 2019, state, federal and local law enforcement seized 77,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl as well as large quantities of cocaine and heroin.

A federal jury in the Eastern District of California has indicted a Sacramento man after law enforcement officers found thousands of counterfeit fentanyl pills in his home.

A Michigan man was arrested after law enforcement found 2,000 counterfeit pills made with fentanyl and tens of thousands of dollars in his Bismarck, North Dakota hotel room last month.

Fullerton, California resident Nam Hyun Lee received a four-year prison sentence for illegally importing bulk quantities of erectile dysfunction drugs and using them to manufacture “herbal” supplements that were distributed to liquor, gas and convenience stores across the United States.

Many young people have died after acquiring counterfeit pills, often on social media platforms. Learn about the problem in Arizona in our video from last November.


Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers found $45,000 worth of suspected fentanyl pills during a traffic stop in Richland County.  Law enforcement also made pill seizures in Queens, New York and  Rochester, Minnesota.

Customs and Border Protection agents in Cincinnati, Ohio intercepted 580 bottles of Viagra pills and 43 boxes of honey laced with sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, being illegally imported from Turkey to Missouri.

Warnings and Deaths:

In Santa Monica, California, 16-year-old Samuel Chapman died of fentanyl poisoning after he took a counterfeit pill he had acquired via Snapchat.

The families of Lea Marie Montgomery in Oklahoma City, Hannah Cupp in Prescott Valley, Arizona spoke about their daughters, both of whom were killed by  counterfeit pills in 2020.

Law enforcement in Greenville, South Carolina seized thousands of counterfeit Xanax pills made of clonazolam. The fakes have killed multiple people in the state, including a man in Greer who used pill presses to manufacture them.

Officials in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Fresno, California, and Boulder, Colorado warned about a spike in the  availability of counterfeit pills made with fentanyl.

Fake Xanax pills confiscated in Greenville, South Carolina in December 2020

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