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Taiwan launches mass crackdown on fraudulent masks

Customs seized over 140,000 counterfeit masks this week

Phony masks seized by Taiwan's customs (Customs Administration photo)

Phony masks seized by Taiwan's customs (Customs Administration photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwanese authorities have begun a massive crackdown on the rampant import and sales of masks without certification or with mislabeled origins.

The operation is in response to a surge in fake Made-in-Taiwan face masks and products from dubious sources. The customs authorities impounded over 140,000 masks labeled as manufactured in Taiwan this week, most of them from China or Hong Kong.

The tightened border inspections are being carried out in a joint effort by the Customs Administration, Food and Drug Administration, and Bureau of Foreign Trade, while the Bureau of Standards, Metrology, and Inspection (BSMI) is conducting spot checks across the country’s retailers.

The clampdown will see BSMI officials visit 300 brick-and-mortar stores that sell masks per week, ranging from cosmetics shops and pharmacies to night markets and convenience stores. E-commerce platforms such as Shopee, PChome, Rakuten, and Yahoo are also subject to examination by the authorities over the sales of the protective gear.

At least five violations have been reported on Shopee as fraudulent medical masks, according to BSMI. Doctoring origins of masks or branding ordinary masks as “medical” would constitute offenses pursuant to the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act and the Criminal Code.

The reputation of Taiwanese mask manufacturing has been exploited over the past months as the coronavirus rages, with mask counterfeits sprouting up in countries like the Philippines and available from shopping websites and domestic street vendors.