3M filed a legal action Monday, June 8 in federal court in California, asserting that a seller on Amazon defrauded its customers by charging grossly inflated prices for fake, defective and damaged respirator products. The lawsuit alleges that Mao Yu and his affiliated companies falsely advertised as third-party sellers on Amazon under the 3M brand. The defendants, according to 3M’s complaint, charged unsuspecting customers more than $350,000 when the customers responded to false listings that claimed to be reselling authentic N95 respirators, while actually selling damaged and fake goods at highly inflated prices.
3M alleges that the defendants charged prices for the fraudulent respirators that exceeded as much as 20 times 3M’s N95 respirator list prices. Amazon learned that the defendants misrepresented what would be delivered for these exorbitant prices, and that buyers had received non-3M respirators, fewer items than purchased, products in suspect packaging, and defective or damaged items. Amazon has blocked the accounts on its platform.
The complaint seeks both monetary damages and injunctive relief to require the defendants to cease their unlawful activities. 3M will donate any damages recovered to COVID-19-related nonprofit organizations.
“3M customers deserve authentic products at fair prices, and this scam is aimed at exploiting the demand for our critical products during the pandemic using 3M’s name connected with price gouging and counterfeiting,” said Denise Rutherford, 3M senior vice president, Corporate Affairs. “Our collaboration with Amazon is one of the important ways we are working to prevent and combat fraud, and we will report this unlawful activity to law enforcement, as well.”
“There is no place for counterfeiting or price gouging on Amazon and we’re proud to be working with 3M to hold these bad actors accountable,” said Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon vice president, Customer Trust and Partner Support. “Amazon has long-standing policies against counterfeiting and price gouging and processes in place to proactively block suspicious products and egregious prices. When we find a bad actor violating our policies, we work quickly to remove the products and take action on the bad actor, as we’ve done here, and we welcome collaboration from brands like 3M.”
3M has not changed the prices it charges for respirators as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Including this legal action, 3M has filed more than a dozen lawsuits in its fight against fraud, price gouging and counterfeiting. 3M has won five temporary restraining orders and four preliminary injunction orders from courts across the country that put a stop to other defendants’ unlawful and unethical profiteering from the pandemic.
To date, 3M has successfully secured the removal of more than 3,000 websites with fraudulent or counterfeit product offerings from e-commerce platforms around the world, more than 4,000 false or deceptive social media posts, and more than 100 deceptive internet addresses.
3M has deployed its internal and external litigation team in its efforts to combat fraud. In this case, 3M is represented by Kevin Mayer and Andrea D’Ambra of Norton Rose Fulbright, and Christopher Weimer of Pirkey Barber.
Resources to fight fraud
3M has created a hotline to call for information on how to help identify authentic 3M products and to ensure products are from 3M authorized distributors. That number, in the U.S. and Canada, is (800) 426-8688.
If customers have concerns about potentially fraudulent activity, price gouging or counterfeit 3M products, they can report their concerns at 3M’s website.