The Fraudster Behind the N-95 Mask

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It’s hard to believe that more than two years has passed since COVID-19 uprooted life. The health crisis caused so many changes across every aspect of life and opened the door for fraudsters to take advantage of new, pandemic-related fraud opportunities. (Nothing shows empathy for others quite like taking advantage of people during a global pandemic.)

Michael Casamento, 42, of Pittsburgh, Pa., was charged with stealing and selling over 13,000 PPE items over the internet. As the former Director of Emergency Management for the University of Pittsburgh, he admitted to stealing the PPE from his former employer between February and March of 2020. He was fired in July 2020. (What made him think that this was ever a good idea? Greed I suppose.)

The FBI was notified by PayPal of the illegal sales on eBay. (Did he think he would be untrackable?) Casamento admitted to making just short of $19,000 off the stolen PPE. The PPE mostly included Aura N-95 masks, surgical masks, and particulate masks. (If there’s a lesson here beyond don’t steal and sell work items, it’s definitely not to do so via PayPal. Uncle Sam is watching.)

Instead of handling the public emergency situation appropriately, Casamento created an emergency. (He deliberately tried to cash in on a public health crisis, which goes against his position as Director of Emergency Management at a large university. Not the brightest move ever made, right?)

Casamento pleaded guilty to one count of interstate transportation of stolen property. He is facing up to ten years in prison, a fine up to $250,000 and three years of probation when sentenced on June 15. (Was it really worth the $19,000 he made from this illegal scam? The government has unveiled this fraudster behind the N-95 mask. I’m ready to put this COVID-19 mess behind us, how about you?) 

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from the article, “Ex Pitt. Emergency official stole PPE masks, sold them for nearly $19k,” published by WKBN First News 27 on February 10, 2022.

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (WKBN) – A former Pittsburgh emergency official has admitted to making almost $19,000 from selling stolen PPE masks online.

Christopher D. Casamento, 42, admitted to stealing PPE from his former employer, the University of Pittsburgh, while serving as the director of Emergency Management.

 

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.