3M strengthens actions to fight Covid-19 fraud, counterfeiting & price-gouging

3M India is working with law enforcement agencies in multiple states to investigate and raid manufacturing operations producing counterfeit N95 respirators

Bengaluru: As 3M continues to fight the global pandemic from every angle and help ensure a safe supply of needed personal protective equipment, 3M has expanded its region-specific resources to report and stop fraud around the world.
In 1972, 3M introduced the first National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) approved disposable filtering face-piece respirator. From there, the company developed a full line-up of NIOSH-approved N95 respirators for a variety of industries. This imported product is in high demand since the pandemic outbreak.
As India is witnessing an unprecedented demand for high-quality safety products, there has been a surge in fraud and counterfeiting activities. To protect consumers from being scammed by unscrupulous agents or buying counterfeit products during the COVID-19 outbreak and ensure a safe supply of urgently needed personal protective equipment, 3M has expanded its resources to take strict measures and stop fraudulent products in the market, on a global basis. The company has observed multiple cases of fraud, counterfeiting, price gouging activities involving respirators and counterfeit AVAGARD™ hand rub solution. Emphasizing this as unethical and illegal, the company has been working closely with law enforcement and government agencies to penalize the perpetrators.
3M India is working with law enforcement agencies in multiple states to investigate and raid manufacturing operations producing counterfeit N95 respirators, and resellers offering counterfeit N95 respirators to the public, seizing fake products and holding bad actors responsible.
In particular, more than 140 fraud, price gouging and counterfeit cases have been reported to 3M. Nation-wide raids have been conducted in the regions of Delhi NCR, Surat, and Ahmedabad and efforts are on to further crack down on illegal manufacturing units and sellers. The company raided a shop premise and a manufacturing unit in Gurgaon that sold AVAGARD™ Hand Rub, which was brought to attention by a consumer complaint. In Delhi, a manufacturing unit that made counterfeit 3M™ Particulate Respirator 8210 were raided and over 30,000 fake respirators, 3300 fake packaging cartons, few machines and printing dies were seized, and the counterfeit manufacturer and die supplier were arrested. In Surat, two sellers with counterfeit 3M™ Particulate Respirator 8210 were raided and over 6500 fake respirators were seized. In Ahmedabad, two other sellers were arrested, seizing over 5000 counterfeit 3M™ Particulate Respirator 8210. On the e-commerce front, 3M India in collaboration with major players such as Amazon, Flipkart, IndiaMart and Olx has de-listed and submitted complaints against over 300 listings.
Commenting on this issue, Ramesh Ramadurai, MD, 3M India, said, “We understand there is a growing demand for our products, especially respirators. To meet this demand, our manufacturing plant has been working around the clock to augment the production of respirators to ensure a 50% increase in output over capacity. The outbreak, however, has regrettably led to price gouging and other unethical market practices. 3M India is committed to combatting such fraudulent activities and will take decisive action against those seeking unethical advantage in this crisis.”
He added, “3M has not increased the prices we charge for respirators as a result of this global crisis, and we will not increase our current prices. We encourage people to work with trusted sources to secure genuine products”
Globally, 3M has fielded and investigated more than 7,700 fraud reports, filed 19 lawsuits, and has been granted nine temporary restraining orders and seven preliminary injunctions. More than 13,500 false or deceptive social media posts, over 11,500 fraudulent e-commerce offerings, and at least 235 deceptive domain names have been removed. 3M has been awarded damages or has received settlement payments in seven cases, with all proceeds being donated to COVID-19 related charities.
3M has also established hotlines for customers and individuals to report suspected fraud and has created online resources to help spot price-gouging, identify authentic 3M respirators, and ensure products are from 3M authorized distributors. For India too, 3M has launched a hotline form, where customers can report suspected fraud.