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Prosecutors: Man sold lanyards he claimed would stop virus

December 18, 2020 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts man pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday for selling lanyards that he falsely claimed could ward off viruses.

Prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office said that instead of protecting the wearer against microbes, the lanyards that Jiule Lin sold online beginning last spring actually contained pesticide.

Investigators said they discovered the scheme while looking for

They say they identified 18 sales Lin made to customers in New York, Ohio, Florida, Illinois and California who each paid as much as $19.95. No injuries have been reported that are related to the products, which were recovered by law enforcement.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said prosecutors have zero tolerance for anyone who seeks to illegally exploit fears during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At the height of a raging pandemic killing thousands of people a day, this defendant tried to profit from conning people,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in a statement.

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The 38-year-old Lin, of Quincy, pleaded guilty Thursday in Boston to a count of selling an unregistered pesticide. A message left with him on Friday was not immediately returned.

Sentencing in the case is scheduled for April. Lin faces up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

Investigators uncovered the scheme after learning of other instances in which unlicensed pesticide products were being marketed online for their bogus ability to fight viruses.