A new market for counterfeit goods has arisen over the past year. As the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to affect individuals across the globe, counterfeit handbags, electronics, and footwear have been supplemented with fake COVID tests, hand sanitizers, 3M masks, medications and corresponding product packaging, and designer face coverings, as indicted by the shipment of $1.3 million worth of face masks adorned with counterfeit Dior, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Burberry, and Fendi logos that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Indianapolis intercepted from China in May, and a number of lawsuits filed by luxury brands. In the latest development of the COVID-specific counterfeit boom, vendors on marketplace sites, such as Amazon, are being busted for offering up fake vaccination cards that mirror the ones issues by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to a report from NPR on Tuesday, a vendor on Amazon was found to be selling packs of blank CDC COVID-19 vaccination cards this week – with a 10-pack of blank cards being offered up for $12.99. “Other vendors selling fake vaccine cards have cropped up on Etsy, an e-commerce site focusing on handmade and vintage items, as well as on pro-Trump forums and the dark web,” the publication revealed, noting that such efforts are “all part of a [larger] black market for fake vaccination cards that has grown in the waning days of the pandemic in the U.S. and other parts of the world.”
The news of the illicit e-commerce offerings come just weeks after a San Joaquin County, California bar owner was charged with identity theft, forging government documents, and falsifying medical records for allegedly selling fake COVID-19 vaccination cards for $20 each in what was said to be “the first foiled operation of its kind” in the U.S.
As we reported in July 2020, while global supply chains were subjected to significant disruptions as a result of the global health pandemic, the $1 trillion-plus global counterfeit trade carried on, as did the large-volume counterfeit seizures that global Customs agencies have come to expect. U.S. Customs, alone, confiscated a whopping $1.3 billion worth of counterfeit goods in 2020. In addition to seizing an “astonishing” amount of counterfeit PPE, test kits, and COVID-related medications throughout the year, the market for infringing luxury goods was all-but-halted by the onset and enduring impact of the pandemic, driven, at least in part, by the tremendous growth in global e-commerce and sweeping marketplace platforms, many of which have been infiltrated by counterfeit-sellers.
Meanwhile, in a report of its own, Chinese Customs officials revealed that Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Cartier, and Gucci were among some of the most frequently-cited names on the list of seized counterfeit products in 2020, but they noted that there was another striking name on that list: Pfizer. In its April 27, 2021 “Typical Cases of Intellectual Property Enforcement by Chinese Customs” report, the China National Intellectual Property Administration revealed that over the course of 2020, the General Administration of Customs blocked the import or export of no shortage of infringing and/or counterfeit goods, and highlighted drug packaging bearing the “Pfizer” logo destined for Iraq.