Two Texas men have been accused of 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, are accused of defrauding a foreign government – which federal prosecutors have not named – of $ 317 million worth of N95 respirators that never existed, according to the Department of Justice.
The men expected to receive up to $ 275 million from the transaction. The foreign government had allegedly wired the money, but the U.S. Secret Service halted the deal before it was completed.
Reuters reported that the foreign government was identified as New South Wales in Australia during a court hearing Tuesday.
Authorities arrested Doolittle on Friday, and Eleanya appeared Tuesday.
Both men face up to five years in prison for conspiracy, and 20 years for each count of wire fraud.
They also faced a $ 250,000 fine.