Two Inland Empire men were arrested Monday after allegedly trying to charge suppliers more than $4 million for personal protective equipment that they didn’t actually have, federal prosecutors say.
Donald Lee Allen, a 62-year-old Riverside man, and Manuel Revolorio, 37, of Rancho Cucamonga, used photos of shrink-wrapped, empty boxes at their office and pictures of masks owned by someone else to claim a large supply of medical gear, according to a Department of Justice news release.
The pair were trying to defraud PPE suppliers through the website for their company, International Commerce and Investment Group, investigators said.
The website allegedly falsely represented the company’s credentials, claiming it had been supplying gear to medical institutions and others since 2014.
Allen and Revolorio told people looking to purchase masks that they had millions on hand, and tried to pressure one potential buyer to wire more than $4 million for them, according to prosecutors.
Their operation was investigated as part of a nationwide crackdown on hoarding and price-gouging amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A criminal complaint unsealed Monday in federal court in Brooklyn charges the men with conspiracy to commit wire fraud with goods they did not own nor otherwise have authorization to sell.
“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,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney Jr. said in a statement.
Both Allen and Revolorio were arrested Monday in California and were expected to make their first court appearance in Los Angeles.
COVID-19 fraud, hoarding or price-gouging can be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud’s hotline at 866-720-5721 or email@example.com.