Medical masks the new favorite for thefts, scams

Medical masks seem to be a new hot commodity in the criminal world. Recently the police arrested two people in Dordrecht for trying to scam hospitals into buying non-existent masks for high amounts. And masks were stolen from a care institution in Putten.

Last week, the police received reports from multiple Dutch hospitals saying they were being offered a large batch of medical masks, for which they had to pay millions of euros. The police immediately suspected a scam and started an investigation.

The investigation led them to a man and a woman from Dordrecht, both 27 years old. They were arrested and taken to a cell complex in Amsterdam for questioning. Their home in Dordrecht was searched and various data carriers were seized for further investigation. 

The police are also looking for perpetrators who stole 130 medical masks and hand sanitizer from a health center in Putten on March 19. The perpetrators left the health center with no protective equipment, the police said on Opsporing Verzocht. 

"It is terrible that this is happening in these times," police officer Jan Thijs van Hemmen said. "To get to the perpetrators, we call on the help of the public. Perhaps someone saw something strange in the night of March 18 to 19 near the health center on Engweg. There may be people who have surveillance cameras in the area. Those images can help us with the investigation."

In a letter to parliament last week, Minister Hugo de Jonge of Public Health also warned of businesses and individuals trying to exploit the coronavirus crisis for financial gain. Stocks were offered at "extortionate prices", and in some cases inquiry showed that "the products were not available at all."