The CBI has alerted the police and other law-enforcement agencies across the country about an Interpol input warning about racketeers selling fake hand sanitisers and scamming people by posing as suppliers of PPE and other COVID-19-related medical items, officials said on Monday.
Once the Interpol passed on the information, the National Central Bureau of India, tasked to coordinate with the international body, immediately alerted the police authorities to remain vigilant about gangs using the modus operandi to make quick money, the officials said.
With the coronavirus pandemic gripping the globe bringing the world economy to a grinding halt, several organised criminal groups have mushroomed internationally to make money using illicit activities from banking viruses to ransomware and cheating as representatives of COVID-19 protection gear, they said.
The Lyon-headquartered global police cooperation agency in its latest input has alerted its member countries about gangs selling fake hand sanitisers using Methanol, a cheap and toxic alcohol, and online advance payment scam perpetrated by conmen posing as representatives of protective gear manufacturers, they said.
Instances have been reported from other countries of use of spurious hand sanitiser during the COVID-19 pandemic, they added.
"Methanol can be highly toxic and dangerous for the human body," an official said.
In a communication to Interpol Liaison Officers (ILOs) of all states and UTs, the CBI has said that some criminals are approaching hospitals and health authorities posing as representatives of manufacturers of PPE kits and other COVID-19-related protective gear.
Exploiting the shortage of such articles, they take online advance payments from authorities and hospitals but after the receipt of payments, no deliveries are made.
The ILOs are officers deputed in every state police organisation to coordinate with the CBI over matters related to Interpol.
Earlier, the Interpol had alerted about banking trojan camouflaged as information material on the pandemic situation, cybercriminals using ransomware to target hospitals and fake testing kits being in circulation for COVID-19 and international narco-traffickers using medical kits to smuggle drugs.