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Razer Must Pay $1.1 Million After Lying About N95 Face Mask and Taking Advantage of Customers

Published May 1, 2024 4:39 PM
James Morales
Published May 1, 2024 4:39 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Razer has settled an FTC lawsuit alleging that it misled customers about its Zephyr masks.
  • The complaint alleges that Razer marketed the masks as N95 grade without the appropriate scientific bases for the claims.
  • Razer has been ordered to refund customers and pay a $100,000 civil penalty.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, few people outside the medical profession had heard of N95 face masks, named because they filter out 95% of airborne particles. But after they became the most sought-after item of personal protective equipment, various counterfeiters and unscrupulous businesses took advantage of public demand.

In the latest in a string of scandals surrounding N95 masks, the electronics manufacturer Razer has been fined  $1.1 by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for erroneously claiming its Zephyr RGB masks were N95 grade without the proper accreditation. 

How Razer’s Face Mask Flopped

First announced in 2021, the Razer Zephyr was marketed as a protective face mask featuring LED lights and a transparent front panel. 

Zephyr masks retailed for around $100 each and thousands of units were sold in the US and Singapore.

However, after critics pointed out major flaws in the design that affected its performance, Razer quietly pulled the product from shelves after a few months. 

Two years later, the company was sued by the FTC, which accused Razer of making misleading statements about the mask’s safety and certification.

Razer Settles $1.1 Million FTC Lawsuit

The FTC’s complaint  alleged that Razer “advertised the Zephyr on social media and the internet

as an N95 mask that provides consumers with protection against contracting COVID-19.”

“However, the Zephyr has never been certified or otherwise approved as an N95 mask, and Defendants lacked competent and reliable scientific bases for their claims,” the lawsuit claimed.

In settling the case, Razer agreed to refund customers in full and pay a $100,000 civil fine.

Commenting on the outcome, FTC Director of Bureau of Consumer Protection Sam Levine observed  that Razer “falsely claimed, in the midst of a global pandemic, that their face mask was the equivalent of an N95 certified respirator.” 

Going forward, “the FTC will continue to hold accountable businesses that use false and unsubstantiated claims to target consumers making decisions about their health and safety,” he added.

The Legacy of Pandemic Mask Scandals

Razer’s ill-fated mask venture recalls a point in time when concerns over airborne diseases were a major public health issue. 

After the rapid spread of COVID-19 placed unprecedented pressure on medical supply chains, businesses and individuals looking to profit from demand for N95 masks didn’t always play fair.

In the UK, PPE Medpro secured more than £200 million in government contracts to supply face masks. But the company would later become embroiled in controversy over allegations of corruption and bribery.

Meanwhile, recent charges such as the case of a dermatologist who abused her position  to illegally stockpile N95 masks show the extent to which people went to procure them at a time when their supply was strictly regulated.

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