The Anti Counterfeit Authority (ACA) has warned that those selling fake masks and sanitizers risk paying three times the total value of the fake items in their possession and jail terms as guided by the courts.
Speaking to The Standard, ACA Chief Executive Officer Elema Halake said those taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic risk such extreme penalties upon being found guilty.
“Because of the demand of these products at such times, unscrupulous business people who want to make quick money are out with fake products putting gullible Kenyans at risk,” Halake observed.
According to him, in the last two weeks there have been three major arrests and confiscations of the fake products by ACA.
Facemasks labelled 3M, which are originally produced by Adams and Adams company were confiscated in Malaba at the border of Kenya and Uganda. The 14,000 masks were valued at Sh1.4 million.
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26 3M-labeled masks belonging to Adam and Adams were seized from a chemist in Nairobi Central Business District.
He also said that the Authority is working to trace the links behind the smuggling of 100 pieces of fake facemasks confiscated in Namanga at the Kenya-Tanzania border. One person was arrested and investigations are still on.
Another set of 1,650 unbranded masks approximately valued Sh495, 000 were also confiscated within Nairobi.
Halake said they are strengthening vigilance, through a multi-agency approach to secure the consumption of Kenyans in combating Covid-19.
“This being a sensitive matter of national interest, we are working the likes of Pharmacies and Poisons Board and Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to ensure quality of the products on the market,” he added.
The public is warned to check four main items of quality in verifying the authenticity of the products.
“Check for packaging. Any regular user of a product knows the product package and appearance. Also check for the consumer experience; things like texture, feel, tastes and viscosity. If you feel the experience is different, that is a red flag for a fake product,” he advised.
“On pricing, do not fall for seemingly cheap products. Go for the standard prices. Also check for labelling and description of the ingredients.”
On cloth masks, he encouraged those sewing and producers to register their trademarks and other copyrights to secure their patents, as that would be the only way to ensure originality when doing market surveillance.