Man arrested over online sales of fake coronavirus testing kits

A man from Birmingham has been arrested for allegedly selling fake coronavirus testing kits on the dark and open webs as the National Crime Agency (NCA) continues to target criminals exploiting the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jun 4, 2020
By Tony Thompson

The 38-year-old, who was arrested at his home in the city’s Jewellery Quarter, was taken into custody on Tuesday (June 2) for alleged offences under the Fraud Act 2006. He is believed to have sold the kits to customers both in the UK and US.

NCA officers seized small quantities of what is believed to be cocaine and heroin, and business records which are now being examined.

A second property was searched in Edgbaston, Birmingham, where suspected fake Covid-19 testing kits were found. A 36-year-old being sought in connection with selling kits was not present, and officers are urging him to come forward.

Matt Horne, deputy director of investigations at the NCA, said: “Bringing offenders to justice and ceasing their activities is a key priority across law enforcement, the NCA will target criminals who pose a risk to our collective effort to tackle the pandemic.

“We are investigating a number of reports on the sale of counterfeit products relating to Covid-19, and will continue to work with partners to protect the public.”

Andy Morling, head of enforcement at the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, said: “We work closely with the NCA and other law enforcement agencies to protect public health and prevent unlicensed medicines and non-compliant medical devices getting into circulation.

“No Covid-19 antibody self-testing kits have received CE mark status and there are no such testing kits available in the UK for home use. It is also illegal to supply these self-test kits for use by members of the public in the UK.

“Products that have not been tested to ensure they meet standards of safety, performance and quality cannot be guaranteed and this poses a risk to individuals’ health.”

James Mancuso, from the US law enforcement agency Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), added: “We commend our NCA partners for their swift response during this global crisis. HSI remains committed to our international partners in maintaining public safety, and holding persons attempting to profit in these uncertain times, accountable for their criminal and dangerous acts.

“Despite widespread illness and deaths caused by Covid-19, individuals and organisations operating around the globe are actively seeking to exploit and profit from the pandemic.

“From financial fraud schemes targeting vulnerable populations, to the importation of counterfeit pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, to websites defrauding consumers, these illicit activities compromise legitimate trade and financial systems, threaten the integrity of international borders, and endanger the safety and security of the public.

“Utilising its unique and expansive authorities, strategic footprint and partnerships worldwide, and robust cyber capabilities, HSI is conducting Operation Stolen Promise to protect the public from the increasing and evolving threat posed by Covid-19-related fraud and criminal activity.”

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