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Way back at the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, N95 face masks made by 3M were the gold standard of coronavirus protection.  Because of their superior filtration abilities and the high cost of buying one due to their scarcity - wearing one in public was almost seen as a status symbol.  I never thought I'd live to see the day in which the trappings of wealth would include the crème de la crème of face coverings - but here we are.

This is where the disgusting, yet all-too-predictable side of human nature comes in to play.  When ever some object becomes insanely valuable, we see the dregs of society commit crimes in of a very specific sort.  They either copy and/or counterfeit the original, or they use the allure of said item to con the gullible out of their hard-earned cash.

The latter type of crime is the one that is causing 56 year-old Houston, Texas resident Arael Doolittle trouble right now.  Prosecutors say that Doolittle and his partner Paschal Eleanya almost conned a whale know to the rest of the world as the entire country of Austrialia!  According to a report from the Hill, they would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those meddling kids at the United State Justice Department (and, presumably their mangy mutt)

Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Apparently, when the price for the N95 masks went through the roof and availability went the other direction - the Justice Department starting monitoring big orders and shipments a lot more closely.  Luckily for our friends down under, they stepped in before Doolittle and Eleanya could finalize the deal to sell millions of masks they didn't own to the the New South Wales government for a reported 500% markup!

In total, Doolittle and his partner stand accused of trying to pull the wool over desperate people's eyes for trying to sell roughly 50 million of these masks (that, once again, they did not have legal ownership of).

According to the report, Doolittle has agreed to plead guilty to one charge of wire fraud conspiracy.  He is set to be sentenced on October 25th of this year.  Charges for his partner, Mr. Eleanya are still pending.

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