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3M continues to crack down on counterfeit N95 respirators, working with law enforcement agencies on more than 1,200 seizures and raids worldwide.

Those actions include the combined seizures of more than 800,000 fake N95 masks in the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and South Africa, 3M said Monday.

Maplewood-based 3M is the leading manufacturer of N95 respirators in the United States and one of the largest globally. The masks are considered the gold standard in protection against pathogens and other particulate matter.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for respirators has far exceeded supply, and rampant commercial fraud and price gouging has followed.

3M said it has investigated more than 7,700 fraud reports globally, up from 4,000 cases in mid-July. The company has filed 19 lawsuits, up one from then.

3M's online actions also have greatly increased.

The company has now removed more than 13,500 false or deceptive social media posts; more than 11,500 fraudulent e-commerce offerings; and at least 235 deceptive domain names.

The mask chicanery is global, with 3.5 million fake masks seized since the pandemic began.

In Vietnam, a 3M investigation led to a factory raid and seizure of more than 150,000 counterfeit respirators. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City authorities also seized equipment used to manufacture phony respirators.

In the United Arab Emirates, 3M has worked with police and the Dubai Department of Economic Development to seize more than 600,000 fake N95s. And in South Africa, 3M is investigating numerous fraud cases; the country's customs authority has already seized over 100,000 N95 counterfeits.

Also, 3M has worked with customs agencies in Latin American in 15 cases, seizing more than 10,000 counterfeit N95s being imported from other parts of the world.

3M is working with law enforcement in the U.S. and European Union, too.

Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003