FILE PHOTO: Various N95 respiration masks at a laboratory of 3M, that has been contracted by the U.S. government to produce extra marks in response to the country’s novel coronavirus outbreak, in Maplewood, Minnesota, U.S. March 4, 2020. REUTERS/Nicholas Pfosi/File Photo
(Reuters) – Industrial conglomerate 3M Co (MMM.N) said on Friday it sued five vendors for allegedly attempting to target government officials with fraudulent offers to sell billions of nonexistent N95 respirators.
The vendors tried to sell respirators to officials in Florida, Wisconsin and Indiana at highly inflated prices, 3M said, adding that they were not connected with the company.
N95 respirators, which are designed to filter 95% of airborne particles, are among personal protective gears most needed by medical professionals battling the coronavirus outbreak.
The company said one case claimed to have up to five billion respirators at inflated prices, falsely affiliating themselves with 3M.
“We will continue to take legal action in cases like these and are working closely with national and international law enforcement to help stop the perpetrators of these unlawful and unethical schemes,” 3M Senior Vice President Ivan Fong said.
3M said it would donate any damages recovered to COVID-19-related nonprofit organizations. It has filed a total of 10 lawsuits in April in its effort to combat fraud.
Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva