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Cleveland Clinic scammed out of $1.8 million for faulty masks

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | October 26, 2021

The healthcare system took immediate steps to remove the counterfeit masks from its hospital and replace them with authentic ones, but says through August, that it was not repaid by Q2 Solutions. “We continue to work with authorities on their investigation and remain committed to helping prevent healthcare-related fraud,” the clinic said in a statement Wednesday.

The clinic did not inform law enforcement of employees becoming ill with COVID-19 while using the masks, and it is unknown how federal agents obtained that information. Federal officials say Q2 Solutions also shipped more than 65,000 masks to Stamford Hospital in Connecticut earlier this year for $317,340. They seized 535 boxes of the masks in March, according to the filings.

A Premier report back in April found that meeting demands for PPE like masks was still a challenge, despite a slow recovery in supplies. Researchers attributed the cause to a supply chain imbalance created by massive increases in global PPE demand, which drove up raw material prices. This, in turn, impacted the cost of finished goods and led providers to add on additional costs to their already strained margins.

3M said on its website that it has received nearly 16,000 reports of fraud and that law enforcement has seized more than 55 million counterfeit masks. A number of scams involving fraudulent PPE have been uncovered this year. A Massachusetts hospital worker back in April saved frontline physicians from potential exposure when he found that tens of thousands of N95 surgical masks he had ordered were counterfeit after examining the labeling on them.

The City of Houston did not fare as well in June when it was swindled out of roughly $1.7 million that it spent on more than 900,000 defective masks. While federal authorities seized the funds paid for the faulty masks from the company that sold them to the city, the money was not returned, despite a request.

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