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COVID-19
04/14/2020

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ICE HSI arrests Georgia resident for selling illegal pesticide, claiming it protects against coronavirus

ATLANTA - Rong Sun, a/k/a Vicky Sun made her initial appearance on federal criminal charges Thursday for illegally importing and selling an unregistered pesticide, and mailing a prohibited article, as part of an online scheme offering the product for sale on Ebay while claming, without any legal basis, the illegal pesticide would protect persons from coronavirus. Sun was charged with a criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney Northern District of Georgia’s office April 8, 2020.

This arrest comes after an interagency investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in coordination with the Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

According to court documents, the defendant allegedly sold the unregistered pesticide, Toamit Virus Shut Out, through eBay, claiming that it would help protect individuals from viruses and would reduce transmission risk by 90%.

Federal law regulates the production, sale, distribution and use of pesticides in the United States. Pesticides are also required to be registered with the EPA. The product offered by the defendant was not registered, and it is illegal to distribute or sell unregistered pesticides. In addition, Sun allegedly illegally imported the pesticide from Japan via the U.S. Postal Service.

“The sale of this product not only violates several federal laws; it also gives people a false hope. During a global crisis, like we are experiencing now, it is incredibly dangerous and reckless to exploit people’s fear for profit,” said acting Homeland Security Investigations Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in Georgia and Alabama. “HSI Atlanta, in conjunction with our law enforcement partners, will continue to prioritize our efforts to protect Americans from COVID-19 fraud.”

 “The defendant took advantage of the current worldwide crisis to sell an illegal product with the claim that it protects individuals from viruses,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “We will take quick action through the Georgia COVID-19 Task Force to put a stop to criminals preying on the public with Coronavirus-related fraud schemes.”

“Reliance on fraudulent products may increase the spread of COVID-19 and exacerbate the current public health emergency,” said Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Susan Bodine. “EPA and our law enforcement partners are working hard to keep these illegal products off the shelves, off the internet, and out of this country. We ask American consumers to help by checking the list of approved products found at epa.gov/coronavirus before making any purchases.”

The public is urged to report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19 (the Coronavirus) by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721) or by e-mailing the NCDF at Covid19Fraud@dhs.gov.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 04/16/2020