OHS Canada Magazine

3M files lawsuit over deceptive N95 sales and price gouging

PPE manufacturer aiming to protect public from counterfeit sales


The defendants allegedly registered 3M-Health.com on Shopify and began selling fraudulent respirators in March. (chaphot/Adobe Stock)

3M opened a lawsuit in Ontario on Tuesday, targeting counterfeit producers of N95 masks.

According to a press release, defendants Zhiyu Pu and Harmen Mander of Caonic Systems falsely affiliated themselves with 3M to sell N95 respirators at exorbitant prices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The defendants allegedly registered 3M-Health.com on Shopify and began selling fraudulent respirators in March, claiming they originated from 3M-certified suppliers in Singapore and the United Kingdom.

The site was closed by Shopify on March 31 at 3M’s request.

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Caonic Systems allegedly went on to open a secondary site under the domain name of www.tormenhealth.com and continued in their fraudulent activity.

When that site was also shuttered, the group is accused of persisting on another web-based platform, selling N95 masks for $17 a piece — more than five times 3M’s retail price.

3M’s legal action requests the court to order Caonic to reveal the location of the remaining respirators, as well as sales and customer information. 3M has committed to validating the respirators’ authenticity and will use them in the efforts to battle COVID-19, if so.

3M has also committed to donate any damages recovered to pandemic-related non-profit organizations.

“At 3M, we are working hard to continue to increase production of respirators for the health-care workers who need them the most in the fight against COVID-19,” said Denise Rutherford, 3M’s senior vice-president of corporate affairs.

“We are dedicated to putting a stop to those who are trying to cash in on this crisis and have taken legal action when we’ve identified illegal behaviour in New York, California, Florida, Texas and now Canada.”

3M has filed a series of legal actions in four U.S. states over the past week.