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Interpol has announced a huge takedown in 90 countries targeting crooks cashing in on the coronavirus endemic.
Items seized as part of Operation Pangea XIII included 34,000 bogus surgical masks, Interpol said Thursday.
The outbreak of the coronavirus disease has offered an opportunity for fast cash, as criminals take advantage of the high market demand for personal protection and hygiene products, officials said.
“Once again, Operation Pangea shows that criminals will stop at nothing to make a profit,” Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock said in a news release. ”The illicit trade in such counterfeit medical items during a public health crisis shows their total disregard for people’s wellbeing, or their lives.”
Law enforcement agencies involved in Operation Pangea found 2,000 online links advertising items related to COVID-19. Counterfeit surgical masks were the medical device most commonly sold online.
The coordinated takedown, which involved inspecting more than 326,000, took place from March 3 to March 10.
Storyful reported that there were 121 arrests and seizures included substandard hand sanitizer, unauthorized antiviral medication and potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals worth more than $14 million.
Interpol said the operation had resulted in more than 2,500 web links, including websites, online market places, and social media pages, being shut down, with a similar number in the process of being taken down.