3M said Thursday that U.S. marshals have seized more than 1 million counterfeit versions of its N95 respirators from a warehouse in Lexington, Ky.
It's the latest of a long line of confiscations of fake N95s since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020.
The U.S. District Court in eastern Kentucky granted 3M a temporary restraining order, stopping Old World Timber from selling counterfeit products. 3M said it then worked with the U.S. Marshals Service to seize more than 1 million respirators.
Maplewood-based manufacturing giant 3M is the country's largest maker of respirator masks, and its N95 is often seen as the gold standard for filtering out pathogens.
The latest case started when potential customers contacted 3M's fraud hotlines. More than 14,000 queries to those hotlines have been investigated by 3M and law enforcement, leading to the seizure of more than 41 million counterfeit N95s globally.
Old World Timber had no business relationship with 3M and was not an authorized dealer of its products, according to a complaint unsealed this week. Old World allegedly provided its customers with fake paperwork saying its N95s came from an authorized 3M dealer.
In an e-mail, Old World Timber's CEO Nathan Brown said the company "has no interest in purchasing, marketing, or selling counterfeit masks. The 3M complaint presents only one side of the case." Old World Timber is working with 3M to settle the case, he added.