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MBTA Tricked Into Ordering Ineffective Hand Sanitizer Alternative, AG Alleges

BOSTON (CBS) -- The MBTA ordered thousands of dollars' worth of a product that was falsely marketed as an effective hand sanitizer alternative that could fight off the coronavirus, according to Attorney General Maura Healey. She announced Wednesday that a $550,000 settlement has been reached with the Federal Resources Supply Company "to resolve false claims."

According to Healey, the MBTA reached out to the company in March after getting a marketing email about a "COVID-19 product" called Theraworx Protect. The T made "three large purchase orders" after being told the product "sanitizes at a '30-second flash and provides a 6 hour prolonged effect' to fight off the virus, elaborating that 'if you touch something it will fight it off,'" Healey said.

Her office argued that the company promoted the product as effective as hand sanitizer even though it contained zero alcohol. It also didn't provide evidence that the product stops the virus for six hours after use, Healey said.

"This company's reckless and deceptive actions put the health of our frontline workers and the public at even further risk during this unprecedented public health crisis," Healey said in a statement. "We took action against this company because their attempt to exploit people during the COVID-19 pandemic for their own profit was not only unacceptable, it was illegal."

Healey's office intervened before the MBTA paid for its orders.

The settlement calls for Federal Resources Supply Company to pay $400,000 to the state and credit the MBTA $150,000 for the amount of product used. The T still has unused product in storage, which the company will pick up.

"The MBTA greatly appreciates the work of the Attorney General's Office, which held this company accountable and recovered the T's costs," said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak in a statement. "The safety of our employees is a top priority, and it's shameful that, during a pandemic, a vendor would make false claims about a product's effectiveness."

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the MBTA paid for the product. Attorney General Healey said her office intervened before the T paid for its orders. 

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