July 26, 2021: Federal authorities in Maryland seize fake Walmart sites selling unapproved COVID "cures."

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland seized two websites that tried to mimic legitimate Walmart website and purported to sell experimental and unapproved drugs that treat or prevent COVID-19. Instead, the domains allegedly collected the personal information of individuals visiting the sites for fraudulent purposes. These are the 12th and 13th COVID fraud related domain names seized by the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office and HSI.

Western States

A federal grand jury indicted a 30-year-old Fresno, California resident who allegedly sold narcotics, including counterfeit oxycodone made with fentanyl, via a Facebook Messenger group page.

The Phoenix Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration seized 4,500 fentanyl pills and 22 pounds of suspected fentanyl powder in the western part of the city.

Another of the fake COVID-related websites the U.S. attorney's office in Maryland has seized. (Source: ICE)

Midwestern & Northeastern States

State poison control officials in Illinois warned recreational drug users about counterfeit fentanyl pills circulating in the area.

Customs and Border Protections (CBP) officers at the Chicago International Mail Facility reported the seizure of 14,021 unapproved prescriptions that included hundreds of thousands of tablets of the prescription painkillers tapentadol and carisoprodol.

Terrell Larry of Sioux Falls, South Dakota received a 15-year prison sentence, eight years of which were suspended, for selling the fentanyl pills that killed 23-year-old Josh Steinfurth and 24-year-old Tanner Schultz in August 2020.

Darryl Hinkson, a former resident of Jersey City, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to distributing fake Percocet and Xanax pills that contained a fentanyl analogue for five weeks in 2018.

Examples of tapentadol tablets seized at the Chicago IMF.

Southern states

In Kentucky, law enforcement arrested a West Point man after the Greater Hardin County Narcotics Task Force searched his home and found hundreds of fake Percocet pills made with fentanyl.

Jonathan Clark Baird, a lawyer in Louisville, Kentucky, received a year of probation for helping two businesses side-step FDA regulators by selling unapproved bodybuilding drugs as chemicals for research purposes. Drug sellers Paul Leix and Thomas Keightly received sentences of four and ten months, respectively, for money laundering and delivering misbranded drugs by fraud. A third man was sentenced to time served.

A Cedar Park, Texas family is warning about counterfeit fentanyl pills in the wake of their son Cameron Stewart’s death from a fake Valium in March 2021. The Austin area also saw 17 counterfeit pill deaths between March 2020 and January 2021.

Governor Abbott of Texas signed a law that raises penalties for dealing fentanyl to 15 years to life in prison.

The Johnson County, Arkansas Sheriff’s Office warned residents that a local man had been treated for fentanyl poisoning after taking fake Xanax pills.

International news

City of London Police seized 1,200kg of illicit prescription drugs--contents unknown--in mid-July. They believe the drugs were made in India and were on their way from the U.K. to the U.S. and other countries.

The government of Uganda reported that in May and June 2021 several unscrupulous health workers injected at least 800 people with fake COVID-19 vaccines. Recipients paid the equivalent of $34 to $163 for the shots.

Authorities in Canada and Mexico are concerned about the emergence of fake vaccine certificates.

Fake CDC vaccine cards for sale on Amazon Canada, July 2021

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