The Federal Trade Commission said on Tuesday it had reached a settlement with three companies involved in marketing an "invisible mask" during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The FTC said it warned the defendants in June 2020 that they were making false and misleading claims about the 1 Virus Buster Invisible Mask, which the companies said created a 3-foot barrier of protection against 99.9% of all viruses and bacteria, including COVID-19. The FTC said that these claims were not supported by science.
The products were actually a badge intended to be worn around the neck, near the nose and mouth. The badge would leave the nose and mouth uncovered, which goes against public health standards.
"This card, which was worn around the neck or clipped onto clothing, was sold using deceptive claims," the FTC said. "For example, the defendants claimed their product 'uses quantum theory technology, combines known virus and bacteria killing compounds. It is safe, simple, and effective. All you need to do is hang it around your neck or attach it to your collar, close to your mouth and nose ... it kills 99.9% of most harmful bacteria and viruses.'"
At the time the products were marketed, a number of states required the public to wear masks in public spaces to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
If the order is accepted by a federal judge, the defendants would pay a $150,000 settlement. Gary Kong, Timothy Wetzel and the two companies they operate, K W Technology Inc. and K W Technology NV Inc., would also be banned from advertising, promoting or selling any product claiming to prevent or treat COVID-19 unless proven by science.
Kong and the two companies have agreed to the settlement. Wetzel has yet to agree, and the FTC is continuing its case against him.
“The defendants’ claims that their products can stand in for approved COVID-19 vaccines are bogus,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The FTC will use every tool it has at its disposal to stop false and unsubstantiated health claims that endanger consumers.”
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