Fears are growing of a global pandemic that could kill millions if it starts this week, as Chinese sellers try to capitalize on consumer fears that their products will soon be banned.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday said its investigation of flights originating from China showed that, for months, China has placed fake flights ads on the online marketplace Amazon.com and eBay.com.
The ads claim that the airline offers low fares and offers free upgrades, but that when they fly, they often return to the same airport.
The ads, the FAA said, appeared to target Chinese consumers in a way that would be difficult for a consumer to spot.
It was the latest in a string of incidents in recent months that have led the FAA to take action against the countrys largest airlines, including Cathay Pacific and Air China, over deceptive advertising.
The FAA said it is investigating the ads and that the agency has made it clear that the advertising must be immediately removed from the marketplace and the ads must be removed from online sales channels.
The agency said it has taken action against flights originating in China to date and it is currently investigating the issue more broadly.
Airlines are expected to face tougher regulatory action in coming weeks.
China has already banned domestic air travel and is expected to tighten restrictions this month.