WASHINGTON – On Thursday, U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) applauded a private-sector initiative’s launch in Louisiana to raise awareness of the trade in fraudulent personal protective equipment amid the COVID-19 crisis and spotlight the resources available to combat the trade in these goods.
The advertising campaign, which began on July 13 and will run for two months across the U.S., is led by Philip Morris International (PMI) and supported by other private industry brand integrity leaders and organizations dedicated to fighting illicit trade, including:
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- United States Council for International Business (USCIB)
- Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT)
- Merck & Co., Inc.
- Procter & Gamble Company
- Tommy Hilfiger
- Under Armour
- Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection Center at Michigan State University
- Luna Global Networks
“Criminals are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to flood the U.S. market with fraudulent and counterfeit products and equipment—such as masks, gloves and testing kits—that are inferior and do not offer the same level of efficacy as properly produced items,” said Dr. Cassidy.
Dr. Cassidy added, “Fortunately, the private-sector has taken this issue into their own hands. Congress should look to their example and work in collaboration to fight criminal organizations’ stealing from Americans and jeopardizing our nation’s security and health.”
Dr. Cassidy has long been vocal on issues regarding trade-based money laundering, narcotics trafficking, US-Mexico border security, terrorist finance, and has made efforts to increase the US Treasury’s efforts on combatting money laundering and terrorist finance.
Earlier this year, Cassidy and Durbin introduced the INFORM Consumers Act (Integrity, Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces Act) to fight the sale of stolen, counterfeit, price-gauged and dangerous products by requiring extensive transparence of large-volume, third-party online sellers. The bill requires high-volume third-party sellers to disclose the seller’s name, business address, email address, phone number and whether the seller is a manufacturer, importer, retailer or a reseller of consumer products.
In December, Cassidy and U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the SANTA Act (Stop All Nefarious Toys in America Act) to protect Americans from unknowingly buying counterfeit and illicit goods. The bill requires that online marketplaces clearly display product origins and business names and contact information. New information required under the SANTA Act include:
- Full name, full business address, whether the seller is the manufacturer, importer, retailer or reseller of the children’s product and contact information for the seller, including working phone number and working email.
- Online marketplaces should also notify parents if the product is fulfilled or shipped from a seller or warehouse that is different from the original seller.
- Online marketplaces should verify seller information prior to listing through government issued ID, bank accounts, individual and business contact information. This should exclude sellers of used children’s products and resellers of children’s products.
In November, Cassidy co-sponsored the CITTPA Act (Combating the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products Act) o disrupt criminal and terrorist organizations that use the illegal tobacco trade to fund their activities. The bill authorizes the executive branch to deny development and security assistance to countries that knowingly profit from the trade and to implement sanctions on the individuals responsible.