Yes, PPE hoarding is a moral, ethical and legal offence and so far USA is the front runner in imposing such bans.Their enforcement is however doubtful in its efficacy, despite a few well publicized cases of the same.
During each pandemic and natural calamity, unethical business elements will always try to make a profit off the market including making medicines, food and fuel unavailable and deliberately disrupting supply chains by hoarding.
The COVID19 Pandemic has seen quite another breed of hoarders who claim to have OTG (on the ground stock in USA and across Mexico) in Billions and Millions.These announcements come as a surprise, where as PPE shortage by the end of 2020 in USA is worse than it was at the beginning of the pandemic.
One fails to understand why these actions do not result in arrests by the FBI, however what we do not understand is that like Nigerian Prince ‘scams’ PPE OTG scams thrive on illiterate brokers looking for a lucky break, they use Chain emails, WhatsApp groups as well as facebook posting.
Sadly, LinkedIn has lost all of its Corporate respect this year as a trusted platform for business professionals and has also become a PPE scam ‘Phishing Market’.
The answer to the question that why FBI does not take these scams seriously is because of the nature of these scams and the clever way the perpetrators behind them use these non-serious ways of advertising to phish for desperate clients who actually have State PO’s to fulfil and/or real health facilities and clinics to supply.
The second reason may be the lack of evidence and reporting.Will anyone want to admit that they found their masks /gloves supplier who scammed them, while doing a desperate search on Social Media and then failed to even have the credentials of the said supplier/broker checked by a lawyer?
Let’s admit a lot of panic buying has occurred in the last one year, and this is the consequence of the importance of proper due diligence having been downplayed considerably. The people in whose hands, State procurement departments handed over money in panic, had dubious financial backgrounds or experience in PPE buying.Some were just new companies set up days before being awarded contracts.
Many people having State PO’s at the beginning of the Pandemic could not even identify the health and safety standards, let alone understand how CE marks worked.
Instead of blaming the FBI for not taking action over these almost comic social media posts perhaps we need to turn to our common sense and think why buyers responsible for replenishing national stock piles have been handing out money to dubious sellers with business registration and accounts in offshore tax havens?
The FBI has itself warned the general public about Advance Fee and BEC Schemes Related to Procurement of PPE and Other Supplies During COVID-19 Pandemic on its official portals.
The primary target of such schemes is the government and health care industry buyers of rapidly emerging fraud trends related to procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE), medical equipment such as ventilators, and other supplies or equipment in short supply during the current COVID-19 pandemic.During 2020 there were multiple incidents whereas a purchasing agency will state they have ‘existing relationships’ with 3M or Glove Distributors.The scam works by soliciting payment and once the advance payment is done, the sellers channels start making ridiculous excuses.
By the time the purchasing agencies became suspicious of the transactions, much of the funds had been transferred outside the reach of the buyer and their local enforcement and are unrecoverable.
One does wonder however whether 80% of the frauds perpetrated against the members of the general public could in fact have been avoided with common sense? or a little due diligence?
If you are a PPE buyer faced with a dubious transaction or offer, feel free to send us an email at email@example.com and we will be happy to advise you.