FBI exposes the 39 million mask stockpile as a SCAM
On March 27, we reported that a health union discovered a 39 million masks stockpile. The FBI recently learned that stockpile was a part of an international fraud scheme.
In a press release on March 26, Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) announced that they found a distributor who had 39 million N95 masks. The union said they had secured the deal after “an exhaustive search” for personal protective equipment (PPE).
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Jay Town talks to Fox News about this and other forms of fraudulence Americans should be aware of during this time.
NBC News reported that several organizations in the state of California and New York had purchased the masks, including the Greater New York Hospital Association, Kaiser Permanente, Stanford Health Care and Sutter Health County.
Investigators discovered the fraudulence while they were looking to see if the masks could be seized for the Federal Emergency Management Agency under the Defense Production Act, the U.S. attorney’s office said this week. That’s when the FBI learned there was no such stockpile.
According to Fox News, Kaiser Permanente said the seller had “repeatedly failed to provide reliable information about where we could verify and inspect the shipment.”
In the press release, SEIU said American manufacturer 3M made the stockpile of masks. But, 3M told the FBI that their company only produced 20 million masks last year. This signaled that the international stockpile being delivered to SEIU might be fake.
Steve Trossman, an SEIU spokesman, told the LA Times said they believed they were getting the masks for the people who desperately needed them.
“As far as we knew, he had legitimate masks,” said Trossman. “And the people who were going to purchase those masks were going to fully vet it and check it out and do their due diligence.” Adding, that the union was “trying to save the lives of health-care workers and patients” and “were proud of having made that attempt.”
No money was exchanged by any parties involved, according to the LA Times.
Unfortunately, scammers are taking advantage of this rise in panic and everyone will have to remain vigilant and discerning.