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Michigan Attorney General weighs in on counterfeit N-95 mask concerns

LANSING, Mich. --- As states begin to reopen and more and more places are requiring people to wear a mask, Michigan officials are concerned that people are being scammed into buying counterfeit N-95 masks.

The Michigan Attorney General’s office has seen nearly 10,000 calls related to scams or price gouging since the state of emergency was put in place.

One of the biggest problems they are now seeing is people selling counterfeit N-95 masks.

This is a concern because N-95 products provide a much higher level of protection than a regular face mask would.

Officials say residents across the state are being scammed or conned into thinking that they have that same level of protection, when in reality, they do not.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said it is not necessarily the average consumer out and about that they are worried about, but people in the vulnerable population.

That means people using the counterfeit masks in nursing homes or around those with compromised immune systems could be putting others at risk, thinking they had a higher level of protection.

The state of Michigan is not out of dodge, either. Some people have even asked the state if they would be interested in purchasing equipment as PPE, Attorney General Nessel said.

“You know, I know somebody and I can connect you to somebody who’s in China or India and I can get you these products and often times they’ll try to scam even the state government,” Dana Nessel said, Michigan Attorney General. “So you can imagine if they’re doing it to the state government, they’re going to do it to anybody that they possibly can.”

While anyone can fall victim to the counterfeit N-95 masks, Attorney General Nessel said that the elderly population is often most at risk as people assume seniors would have the most stable source of money coming in.

As more and more places require people to wear masks, they are likely going to be in higher demand than possible ever before.

There are also people ordering masks and never even getting them in the first place, according to Attorney General Nessel.

Attorney General Nessel said that people of all ages and backgrounds are being preyed upon and these are people who just want to protect their health and loved ones.

“People need these products, not for, you know, they’re own entertainment, but to keep themselves and their families safe and to make sure that they are not contracting COVID-19 and that they’re not spreading it,” Attorney General Nessel said. “So, it’s incredibly important that people have the opportunity to stay safe and that they’re not being taken advantage of.”

If you would like to find out if you have a counterfeit N-95 mask, you can use this tool on the CDC website.

Attorney General Nessel recommends using a credit card if you do plan on ordering a mask because it is easier to get your money back that way if you run into any problems.

If you have seen or think you have purchased a counterfeit N-95 mask, the Michigan Attorney General’s office wants to hear from you.

You can file a report by clicking here or calling 877-765-8388.

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