No, the FBI didn’t seize masks and protective gear from a New York synagogue
Issued on: Modified:
A number of widely circulated Facebook posts published in early April claimed that the FBI seized a large cache of surgical masks from a synagogue in New York as part of a nationwide attempt to get much-needed medical equipment for the medical personnel on the frontlines against COVID-19. Turns out, the story that was circulating is false: while the FBI really did seize protective equipment on March 30, it was from a vendor selling it at inflated prices.
One of these posts in particular garnered more than 40,000 views, on a page called "Canal France Algérie Officiel." The post generated generated numerous anti-Semitic comments.
However, we just typed the words “FBI”, “masks” and “New York” into Google and immediately pulled up a number of articles from reputable American and Canadian media outlets that reported the true story of the incident.
On March 30, FBI agents arrested Baruch Feldheim on suspicions of selling medical equipment for inflated prices online. The FBI seized hundreds of thousands of N95 respirator masks as well as surgical gowns, disinfectant towels, particulate filters, hand sanitizer and spray disinfectant, according to the New York Times.
Feldheim had tried to sell a doctor protective gear at a 700 percent markup last month, according to the FBI. The doctor later said he met Feldheim in a garage that was filled with enough equipment to furnish an entire hospital.
In summary, the FBI seized medical supplies that were being hoarded by a man who wanted to make money from the COVID-19 pandemic and not a synagogue. The US Department of Health and Human Services said that they would pay the seller “pre-COVID fair market value” for the equipment and that it had already been distributed to hospitals in New York and New Jersey.