Europol has supported a global operation to target trafficking counterfeit medicines. Operation Pangea, coordinated by INTERPOL and involved 90 countries worldwide, took place between 3 and 10 March 2020.
Catherine De Bolle, Executive Director of Europol: "Criminals abuse fears around the pandemic by selling medicines online which claim to cure the coronavirus. Not only are these medicines fake, but dangerous too. Don't buy them!
The pandemic has opened up a business opportunity for predatory criminals. Authorities around the world seized nearly 34 000 counterfeit surgical masks, making them the most commonly sold medical product online. Law enforcement officers identified more than 2 000 links to products related to COVID-19.
The results of the operation reveal a worrying increase in unauthorised antiviral medications and the antimalarial chloroquine. Vitamin C, known for its immune-boosting properties, and other food supplements have been seized around the world. Painkillers and antibiotics also represented a significant portion of the seizures.
Europol supported the operation by facilitating information exchange and providing analytical support. One expert from Europol was deployed to cross-check in real time operational information against Europol’s databases and provide leads to investigators.
In a statement, Catherine De Bolle, Europol's Executive Director, said: "Criminals abuse fears around the pandemic by selling medicines online which claim to cure the coronavirus. Not only are these medicines fake, but dangerous too. Don't buy them!
The Office for combating Cybercrime urges citizens to be careful and not to buy any drug or treatment online. On the contrary, for any treatment, it should consult only the competent state authorities and its personal doctor.