Two Texas men have been charged with trying to sell 50 million non-existent N95 face masks to a foreign government, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Arael Doolittle, 55, and Paschal Ngozi Eleanya, 46, both of Houston, planned to defraud a foreign government — which federal prosecutors didn’t name — out of $317 million worth of N95 respirator masks that never existed, according to the Justice Department.
The men expected to receive up to $275 million from the transaction. The foreign government allegedly wired the money but the U.S. Secret Service stopped the deal before it was completed.
Reuters reported the foreign government was identified as New South Wales in Australia during a court hearing Tuesday.
Authorities arrested Doolittle on Friday, and Eleanya turned himself in on Tuesday.
Both men face up to five years in prison for conspiracy, and 20 years for each count of wire fraud.
They also face $250,000 fines.