by John R. Fischer
, Senior Reporter | June 10, 2020
Medical equipment manufacturer 3M has accused an Amazon seller of defrauding and charging customers more than $350,000 for the sale of fake, defective and damaged respirators.
The Minnesota-based manufacturer filed a suit against Mao Yu and his affiliated companies in California federal court, alleging that they falsely advertised themselves as third-party sellers on Amazon under the 3M brand and levied grossly inflated prices to customers who responded to false listings for resales of authentic N95 respirators.
“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, senior vice president of corporate affairs at 3M, in a statement. “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.”
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The suit alleges that the defendants charged as much as 20 times the cost for 3M’s N95 respirators, the prices of which have not changed, according to the company. 3M is requesting both monetary damages and injunctive relief that would require the defendants to shut down their alleged illegal activities.
Amazon confirmed that buyers received non-3M respirators, fewer items than purchased, products in suspect packaging, and defective or damaged items, according to the suit. It has since blocked the accounts on its platform.
“There is no place for counterfeiting or price gouging on Amazon and we’re proud to be working with 3M to hold these bad actors accountable,” said Dharmesh Mehta, vice president for customer trust and partner support at Amazon, in a statement. “Amazon has long-standing policies against counterfeiting and price gouging, and processes in place to proactively block suspicious products and egregious prices. When we find a bad actor violating our policies, we work quickly to remove the products and take action on the bad actor, as we’ve done here, and we welcome collaboration from brands like 3M.”
Yu is not the first to be slapped with a lawsuit by 3M throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The company, to date, has filed more than a dozen lawsuits and won five temporary restraining orders and four preliminary injunction orders from courts across the country against organizations and individuals it has accused of trying to sell fraudulent respirators and PPE, or selling fake and authentic products at gouged prices.