A Quincy man who used eBay to sell a card-like amulet that dispenses bleach fumes faces up to a year in prison after pleading guilty to distribution and sale of an unregistered pesticide, the US Attorney's office in Boston reports.
Jiule Lin, 38, started selling Toamit Virus Shut Out, with the active ingredient of chlorine dioxide, on eBay as a Covid-19 preventative in March, several weeks before President Trump suggested "disinfectant" applied to the lungs might kill the virus.
According to the US Attorney's office:
Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the EPA regulates the production, sale, distribution and use of pesticides in the United States. A pesticide is any substance intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest, including viruses. Pesticides must be registered with the EPA. Toamit Virus Shut Out was not registered, and it is illegal to distribute or sell unregistered pesticides.
He's not the first person prosecuted for selling the censers, which come with a lanyard for easy wearing around the neck. In September, Customs and Border Protection agents seized 10,000 packages of the things in Louisville, KY.
US Attorney Andrew Lelling said he took some satisfaction in going after Lin:
At the height of a raging pandemic killing thousands of people a day, this defendant tried to profit from conning people into believing that a pesticide-coated lanyard would protect them from viruses like COVID-19. This was dangerous, opportunistic fraud. We will always pursue these kinds of cases - I have zero tolerance for people who take advantage of the fears of others during a national health crisis.
The packaging for the product is is Japanese and lists its manufacturer as Toa Industry of Japan. But on its Web site, the company says it stopped making the thing in March, so anything on the market now is likely a counterfeit (Google translation of the original Japanese):
[Caution] Regarding counterfeit products of "Virus Shut Out"
We manufactured "Virus Shutout" and sold it mainly as a product for physical stores, but we have already finished manufacturing and selling by March 2nd year of Reiwa.
However, at present, a large number of products using the name "virus shutout" are sold on major EC sites, and we have confirmed that some products are copy products. We have also received reports from consumers who have purchased copy products that they have suffered health problems. And since we have already discontinued the sale and sold it mainly as a product for physical stores, most of the products currently on the market may be copy products.