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Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

Senators applaud DHS for combatting vaccine fraud

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A group of U.S. Senators is commending the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for their efforts to protect against counterfeit vaccines and personal protective equipment through Operation Stolen Promise 2.0.

“In April U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) launched Operation Stolen Promise,” Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Chris Coons (D-DE) wrote in a letter to DHS leaders. “This operation is an impressive collaboration of federal agencies, business leaders, industry representatives, and international law enforcement partnerships. We are grateful for the quick and decisive actions HSI has taken to address the new challenges to public health and safety created by this pandemic.

The lawmakers pointed out that Operation Stolen Promise has led to 187 criminal arrests, 1,653 seizures of prohibited COVID-19 items, such as counterfeit test kits, counterfeit masks, and banned pharmaceuticals. Further, Operation Stolen Promise resulted in $27.8 million in illicit proceeds seized, $18.8 million in disrupted fraudulent transactions, and $21.6 million in Cares Act fraud seizures.

“As Operation Stolen Promise 2.0 progresses, you must take any and all necessary actions to stop the spread of misinformation about counterfeit vaccines and to stop the sale of such fake vaccines in the United States. You also must regularly track new trends in counterfeit COVID-19 products, whether they be threats, disruptions, or potential threats. It is important that we look back on the challenges of this year to learn how to better prevent the same threats to public safety in the future,” they added.

The lawmakers also thanked DHS officials for their work combatting online fraud related to unemployment benefits.