HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Houston man pleaded guilty in a scheme to fraudulently sell non-existent N95 masks to the Australian government.
Arael Doolittle is accused of attempting to sell 50 million 3M N95 respirator masks to the Australian government in early April of 2020. The primary issue? He didn't actually possess any masks.
The Australian government was supposed to pay over $315 million for the masks, but fortunately, the transaction was disrupted by authorities before it was completed.
Doolittle's guilty plea was accepted by a U.S. district judge and he is set for sentencing on Oct. 25, 2021. He could face up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
Doolittle has been in custody since his November 2020 arrest, and he will remain in custody until the hearing.
Doolittle is not the only Houston man charged in the scheme.
Paschal Ngozi Eleanya, 49, is also charged with conspiracy and wire fraud.
The COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force was formed to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice's National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the Department of Justice's NCDF website.
The video above is from a previous report.