Richmond (May 1, 2020) – In a joint effort, BC RCMP and Health Canada seized 1,500 unauthorized COVID-19 test kits from a Richmon resident. The accused allegedly sold the kits online to unsuspecting British Columbians. The investigation resulted from a tip provided by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. No charges were laid by the BC RCMP as a result of the seizure. Authorities remind the public that only diagnostic tests authorized by Health Canada can be imported or sold in Canada and recommend Canadians who have purchased unauthorized health products to stop using them and consult a health care professional.
The BC RCMP announced the seizure of 1,500 unauthorized COVID-19 test kits from a Richmond resident in a press release on April 30. The seizure was a joint endeavor of the COVID-19 Fraud Response Team of the BC RCMP and Health Canada.
Federal Serious and Organized Crime investigation into unauthorized COVID-19 test kits
Following a tip by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the BC RCMP in partnership with Health Canada seized more than 1,500 unauthorized COVID-19 test kits from a Richmond resident. The accused allegedly acquired and sold the kits online to unsuspecting British Columbians. The Mounties did not disclose the time and location of the seizure.
‘Only diagnostic tests authorized by Health Canada can be imported or sold in Canada,’ stated the RCMP in their release and explained that only authorized COVID-19 tests provide accurate and reliable results. Tests that are not authorized by Health Canada may lead to potential misdiagnosis. A list of authorized tests can be consulted on Health Canada’s website.
According to the RCMP’s press release, no charges had been laid as a result of the seizure.
Fraudulent health product advertising related to COVID-19
Health Canada is taking measures against advertisement of products related to COVID-19 that are non-compliant with Canadian laws on marketing of health products. According to the RCMP, selling, or advertising health products that make false or misleading claims to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure COVID-19 is illegal in Canada.
‘Currently there is no vaccine or therapeutic product for COVID-19 that is authorized to treat or prevent the disease,’ clarifies Health Canada on its website. The government agency monitors websites for false and misleading claims, working with online retailers to ensure that unauthorized products and products making unauthorized claims are removed from their websites. Health Canada published a list of products connected with non-compliant marketing on their website.
The RCMP recommends anyone who has purchased unauthorized health products should stop using them immediately and consult a health care professional.
Read more: Toronto police make COVID-19 fraud arrest
‘Be extra careful during the pandemic regarding online frauds and scams’
The B.C. Mounties emphasized that the types of scams can be infinite and change daily, ranging from unauthorized sale of unapproved medical devices to online phishing regarding fake COVID-19 testing, Revenue Canada and Health Authorities communications, government grants such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), and many more.
In order to deal with various scams that are resulting in respect of the pandemic, the BC RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime Financial Integrity Program created the COVID-19 Fraud Response Team. ‘Canadians are reminded to be extra careful during the pandemic regarding online frauds and scams,’ said Inspector Lav Mangat, Operations Officer for the BC RCMP Financial Integrity Program. ‘We work with many partners, such as Health Canada, to protect British Columbians. We are all in this together.’
Health Canada encourages anyone who has information on the potential non-compliant sale or advertising of a health product claiming to treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure COVID-19, to report it.