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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Districts of Guam & the Northern Mariana Islands

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Kwong Yau Lam Sentenced for Selling Illegal Products Claiming to Protect Against Viruses

Hagatña, Guam - SHAWN N. ANDERSON, United States Attorney for the Districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, announced that defendant Kwong Yau Lam, age 67, a citizen of Hong Kong and U.S. permanent resident of Guam, was sentenced in the U.S. District Court of Guam to one year probation for Distribution and Sale of Unregistered Pesticide, in violation of 7 U.S.C. §§ 136j(a)(1)(A) and 136l(b)(1)(B), and Conspiracy to Distribute and Sell Unregistered Pesticide, in violation of l8 U.S.C. § 371. The Court also ordered a mandatory $150.00 special assessment fee.

Beginning in March 2020, Kwong Yau Lam sold products marketed as “Virus Shut Out Cards” that were not registered and authorized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Upon hanging a card from a lanyard, it purportedly protected the consumer from viruses. On the contrary, it offered no proven protection from viruses, including COVID-19. 

Lam sold 100 Virus Shut Out Cards to three merchants in Guam and told them that the product protected people from viruses.  Lam ordered three more boxes containing 900 pieces from his relative in Hong Kong. U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Honolulu, Hawaii, seized two boxes from that order.  After the seizure, agents with Homeland Security Investigations interviewed Lam. He told the agents that he did not get approval from any government agency to import the Virus Shut Out Cards from Hong Kong, and that he had not sold any cards in Guam.  Lam lied when he made this statement because evidence showed that he sold the cards to merchants.

“This case is another shocking example of a false claim made to consumers during the initial stages of the pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney Anderson.  “The defendant preyed upon consumers who were justifiably concerned for their personal health and safety due to COVID-19.  This was made worse by the potential harmful effects of the product itself.” 

“Public safety is a top priority for Homeland Security Investigations,” said Special Agent in Charge John F. Tobon. “We will continue to pursue those who rob and hurt the people in our communities and make sure they are held accountable for exploiting a pandemic for profit.”

“Unregistered pesticide products that make fraudulent COVID-19 protection claims pose serious public health dangers,” said Special Agent in Charge Scot Adair of EPA’s criminal enforcement

program in Guam. “Today’s sentencing demonstrates that EPA and our law enforcement partners are committed to protecting the American people from harmful products.”

Under 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, which includes 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.  Lam imported the pesticide from China and later sold it to individuals in Guam.

The EPA has taken steps to block the importation and sale of Toamit Virus Shut Out in the United States: EPA Administrator Wheeler Talks with Retailers and Third-Party Marketplace Platforms to Discuss Steps to Protect American Consumers from Fraudulent Coronavirus Disinfectant Claims and U.S. EPA Acts to Protect the Public from Unregistered “Virus Shut Out” Product Imported into Honolulu and Guam.

This case was a joint investigation led by U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations in conjunction with U.S. Customs & Border Protection, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Guam Customs & Quarantine Agency, and the Guam Environmental Protection Agency. The prosecution of this case was handled by Marivic P. David, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Guam.

Anyone with general information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

Topic(s): 
Coronavirus
Contact: 
Carmela S. Rapadas, Public Affairs Officer Carmela.Rapadas@usdoj.gov
Updated December 2, 2021