Department of Justice Arrests Georgia Resident for Selling Illegal Products Claiming To Protect Against Viruses
On April 9, 2020, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it had charged a Georgia resident, Rong Sun, a/k/a Vicky Sun with federal criminal charges relating to alleged illegal importation, sales, and mailing of an unregistered pesticide product. EPA also has taken steps to prevent further imports, sales, and distributions of this product within the United States, announcing in its press release that it prevented several shipments of this product from entering U.S. Pacific ports.
The product at issue, Toamit Virus Shut Out, was sold through eBay and made claims to protect individuals from bacteria and viruses and to reduce transmission risk by 90 percent. Claims regarding the product also included the following statement: “In extraordinary times, access to public places and confined spaces will be protected by one more layer and have one more layer of safety protection effect, thus reducing the risks and probability of infection and transmission.” The product was not registered by EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division is prosecuting the case. EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and USPS are investigating this case. This type of collaborative investigative effort among federal agencies can be expected to continue to prevent defrauding victims during this coronavirus pandemic. In its press release announcing the arrest, DOJ stated that it “will take quick action through the Georgia COVID-19 Task Force to put a stop to criminals preying on the public with Coronavirus-related fraud schemes.” EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Susan Bodine stated further: “Reliance on fraudulent products may increase the spread of COVID-19 and exacerbate the current public health emergency.”
EPA encourages consumers to review its list of products found at epa.gov/coronavirus for products registered and approved for use against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The public also can report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19 by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721) or by e-mailing the NCDF at email@example.com.