Nov. 25, 2020Updated: Nov. 25, 2020 10:50 a.m.
Two Houston men have been charged for attempting to sell 50 million non-existent N95 face masks to a foreign government, federal authorities said.
Two Houston men have been charged for allegedly attempting to sell 50 million non-existent N95 face masks to a foreign government, federal authorities announced in a statement Tuesday.
In the Nov. 19 indictment, Paschal Ngozi Eleanya, 46, and Arael Doolittle, 55, were charged with wire fraud and conspiracy for allegedly selling 3M model 1860 N95 respirator masks which they didn’t actually possess and allegedly defrauding a foreign government out of more than $317 million.
The statement did not specify which foreign government was involved.
Federal authorities said Doolittle and Eleanya brokered a sales price for the masks that was five times their original price. The pair allegedly expected to pocket $275 million from the elaborate scheme, according to the statement.
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The deceptive plot was foiled just as the foreign government wired the money over, according to the Department of Justice, but federal authorities stopped the transaction before it could be completed.
U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick urged Texans to report fraudulent COVID-19 schemes when they spot them.
“Justin Martin, my COVID fraud point person has been investigating this case for months. Glad to finally see it come together. PPE fraud and price gouging is still a thing. Report it when you see it,” Patrick tweeted.
If convicted, Doolittle and Eleanya face up to five years in prison for conspiracy and up to 20 years in prison for each of the two counts of wire fraud. Each charge carries a maximum fine of $250,000.
Source : chron.com