The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) announced in mid-May first successes of its investigations into counterfeit pharmaceuticals and medical products that have been entering the markets since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The investigators have thus already identified 340 companies acting as intermediaries or traders of counterfeit or substandard products. This might help to take further steps against the entire supply chain. In addition, millions of substandard products have already been confiscated in various EU countries, and a Cyber Task Force was set up at the end of April to fight the illegal online trade in medical products. For the investigations, which were launched in March, OLAF is cooperating with customs and law enforcement authorities of many EU and non-EU countries, as well as with officials from Europol, Interpol, the World Customs Organization (WCO), and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). “Pooling knowledge and resources from all over the world is the only way to prevent counterfeit, substandard and ineffective products from entering Europe”, said Ville Itälä, Director General of OLAF.
Authorities bust clandestine factory for fake car parts in Northern Italy
In seemingly abandoned premises in the Turin area, officials of the Italian Guardia di Finanza di Torino have identified an illegal factory for counterfeit car parts and seized around 15,000 fake car parts in early May. The counterfeiting ring, whose head was already known to law enforcement authorities, had produced illegal car parts and accessories on the 1,500-square-meter site, also despite the coronavirus lockdown in Italy. On site, officials found numerous machines used to produce fakes and to fulfill hundreds of orders that are said to have been received daily. Among others, the seized counterfeits also included spare parts for vintage cars, which were intended for customers all over Italy. The site also featured an illegal garage for repairing cars, where some 1,000 engines and 24 machines were seized; as well as an area for illegal disposal of hazardous waste.
Tens of thousands of fakes, thousand protective masks seized in Southern Italy
In a retail shop in Italy’s Sicily region, investigators from the Guardia di Finanza di Catania confiscated about 21,000 alleged counterfeit toys and clothing, together with about 1,000 potentially dangerous protective masks. The toys and clothing were apparently bearing counterfeit trademarks. The seized FFP (Filtering Face Piece) protective masks did not carry the European CE marking, but a slightly modified CE logo representing ‘China Export’.
Counterfeit clothing, cigarettes confiscated in Ireland
Officials of the Irish police Gardaí seized counterfeit clothing and cigarettes worth around 43,000 euros in early May in County Donegal, in the north of the Irish island. During raids by officers of the local police and the Armed Support Unit, some 60,000 counterfeit cigarettes and several kilograms of other tobacco items were seized; the number of clothes seized was not disclosed.