California pair arrested in alleged PPE-selling scam amid coronavirus outbreak

They allegedly tried to entice an investor with photographs of boxes of masks.

April 27, 2020, 9:30 PM

The latest COVID-19 fraud case involves two purported personal protection equipment (PPE) dealers who are under arrest in California on charges they tried to scam an investor out of millions of dollars.

Donald Allen and Manuel Revolorio cast themselves as sellers of scarce protective equipment and tried to entice the investor with photographs of boxes of masks, according to federal prosecutors in Brooklyn who brought the case.

Allen and Revolorio created a website for their company, International Commerce and Investment Group, and claimed to have contracts and agreements to sell millions of masks that they didn't actually own, according to the FBI.

"The alleged behavior here is nothing short of a betrayal of fellow citizens -- both those serving on the front lines, and the communities who need those essential workers able to safely serve," said FBI Assistant Director Bill Sweeney.

The investor, who was asked to wire $4 million, became suspicious and went to the authorities, according to the complaint. He then agreed to follow the instructions of the FBI when he went to inspect the merchandise, the complaint went on to say.

PHOTO: Boxes of N95 protective masks for use by medical field personnel are seen in New York, March 17, 2020.
Boxes of N95 protective masks for use by medical field personnel are seen in New York, March 17, 2020.
Mike Segar/Reuters, FILE

"As alleged in the complaint, the defendants sought to take advantage of the urgent national need for life-saving personal protective equipment through a fraudulent scheme designed to line their own pockets," said Richard Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Allen, 62, of Riverside, California, and Revolorio, 37 of Rancho Cucamonga, face wire fraud charges.

"The defendants in this case allegedly created an elaborate scam to defraud their victim, going as far as to wrap and label empty boxes and try to pass them off as containing actual personal protective equipment," said COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force head Craig Carpenito.

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