(PresidentialWire.Com)- When the Service Employees International Union embarked on a project to find unused medical masks to help medical professional protect themselves against the coronavirus, nobody would have believed they would stumble upon a supply of 39 million N95 masks. In March, however, the union reported exactly that.
In a press release, the union announced that their “exhaustive search for masks and other personal protective equipment” had hit gold in just 48 hours.
“Within 48 hours of painstakingly calling leads and potential suppliers, the union discovered a distributor who had the 39 million masks, and has since found another supplier who says his company can produce 20 million more masks a week.”
In the same press release, the SEI Union also announced that a supplier had promised to manufacture and deliver several million face shields.
At the time, the union didn’t provide details about the location or identity of the distributors in question but offered hope that medical professionals would be getting a much-needed influx of essential supplies. Now, it looks like it was one giant scam.
The Los Angeles Times reported on April 11 that, according to the FBI, the union was actually a victim of an elaborate scam. The Times reported that FBI agents along with U.S. Attorney Scott Brady came across the arrangement during an investigation into whether they would be able to intercept the delivery of the masks under the powers granted to the federal government by the Defense Production Act.
Investigators looking into the deal traced it back to a businessman in Pittsburgh who claimed to be working to secure the supply. The businessman used WhatsApp to communicate with a supplier in Kuwait and a broker in Australia and asserted that some of the masks were located in a warehouse in Georgia.
It looks like the businessman was just another person being duped by the scam, however. Thankfully, it appears that FBI intervention means that the union has not been conned out of the money put aside to pay for the masks. U.S. Attorney Brady claimed that the businessman in Pittsburgh was planning on purchasing the masks for $3.50 each, which would have been sold by the union for $5 each.