For the last couple months, a team of our lawyers (a/k/a the PPE team) have been working nearly nonstop on helping companies, charities, and even countries navigate the purchasing of Personal Protective Equipment from China. As we have written extensively, this is a risky business.
For some of what we have written on sourcing PPE from China, we encourage you to check out the following:
- How to Buy PPE from China Without Getting Ripped Off
- Buying Face Masks and Other PPE from China Just Got a LOT Tougher
- China PPE: Just When You Thought it Might be Safe to Go into the Water
- Buying Face Masks and Other PPE from China: Not For the Faint of Heart
And for more on what we have to say about the risks of buying PPE, please check out the following news articles as well:
- Wall Street Journal: Faulty N95 Masks Hamper Hospitals on Coronavirus Front Line
- Los Angeles Times: Faulty masks. Flawed tests. China’s quality control problem in leading global COVID-19 Fight.
- South China Morning Post: Inside China’s “Wild West”, where mask machines are like cash printers
- Wired Magazine: Everybody and His Dog Is Trying to Sell Medical Equipment
- Japan Times: Politics aside, U.S. relies on China supplies to fight coronavirus
- Los Angeles Times: States battle for coronavirus supplies in a chaotic market
- Business Insider España: Coronavirus: la fiebre de las empresas chinas que fabrican mascarillas
Most recently, in Face masks, ventilators with fake certificates pushed by scammers as demand for Chinese medical supplies booms, AsiaOne interviewed one of our PPE lawyers, Steve Dickinson, on the risks of buying from Chinese suppliers:
While some do sell viable – if overpriced – products, others sell junk. “They’re not concerned about whether the products perform or not … and they can disappear overnight,” Dickinson added.
Dickinson said claims of special ties with manufacturers were common. So were convincing certificates that turned out to be fake, invalid, or issued to a different company.
Offers to quickly ship high-volume orders in return for cash upfront were frequent, too.
Scam sellers typically dissuade buyers from contacting the manufacturer or conducting other forms of due diligence, such as visiting warehouses where products are stored, he said.
Of nine medical goods suppliers with whom significant product inquiries were made for this story, all but one – a face mask producer in the eastern province of Anhui – provided documentation made out to different companies.
They all claimed business ties with manufacturers allowing them to sell their goods to foreign buyers, but only one produced a contract showing the manufacturer had given them permission to do so.