Company sold fake N95 masks on Amazon for 20X list price, lawsuit alleges

A seller on Amazon is accused of defrauding customers by selling N95 masks that were “fake, defective and damaged” and charging as much as 20 times the list price. 

3M Co. filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court in California alleging that Mao Yu and his affiliated companies falsely advertised as third-party sellers on Amazon under the 3M brand, which manufactures a wide range of products including the N95 mask.

Yu’s companies KM Brothers Inc., KMJ Trading Inc., and Supreme Sunrise Inc. began selling N95 masks across three Amazon accounts in February, the complaint reads, according to Bloomberg Law. 3M says the average sale price for the masks was $23.21, while 3M’s list price for comparable products is $1.27.

Yu’s companies allegedly made more than $350,000 “while actually selling damaged and fake goods at highly-inflated prices,” according to a statement from 3M.

RELATED: Pharmacist known as ‘the mask man’ charged with hoarding, price gouging N95 masks

“Amazon learned that the defendants misrepresented what would be delivered for these exorbitant prices, and that buyers had received non-3M respirators, fewer items than purchased, products in suspect packaging, and defective or damaged items,” 3M said.

Amazon has since blocked the sellers’ accounts on its platform. 

3M said it will donate any damages recovered to COVID-19-related nonprofit organizations.

“3M customers deserve authentic products at fair prices, and this scam is aimed at exploiting the demand for our critical products during the pandemic using 3M’s name connected with price gouging and counterfeiting,” said Denise Rutherford, 3M’s senior vice president of corporate affairs. “Our collaboration with Amazon is one of the important ways we are working to prevent and combat fraud, and we will report this unlawful activity to law enforcement, as well.”

3M said it has filed more than a dozen lawsuits in its fight against fraud, price gouging and counterfeiting during the pandemic. It has won five temporary restraining orders and four preliminary injunction orders from courts across the country.

Customers with concerns about potentially fraudulent activity, price gouging or counterfeit 3M products can report their concerns on 3M’s website.

RELATED: California woman sues Safeway operator for toilet paper price gouging

This story was reported from Cincinnati.