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Houston man guilty of trying to sell 50 million non-existent face masks to Australia for $317 million

Arael Doolittle attempted to sell 50 million 3M N95 face masks to the Australian government for more than $300 million.
Credit: AP

HOUSTON — A Houston man is facing up to five years in prison after being found guilty in a costly face mask scheme.

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Arael Doolittle, 56, pleaded guilty. He attempted to sell 50 million 3M N95 respirator masks to the government of Australia.

The kicker? Doolittle didn't actually have the masks.

The Australian government was going to pay more than $317 million for the masks, but the transaction was disrupted before it was completed.

RELATED: Arizona man charged with stealing millions from State of Texas after claiming to be mask distributor

Sentencing is set for Oct. 25. Doolittle faces up to five years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine. He will remain in custody until the hearing.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Attorney General established the "COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud."

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The task force helps investigate and prosecute criminals targeting relief programs. For more information, click here.

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 NCDF Web Complaint Form.