3M Settles Lawsuit Over Fraudulent N95 Scheme

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An N95 particulate mask.

3M recently agreed to settle a lawsuit it filed against ZeroAqua over a fraudulent N95 scheme.

Earlier this week, 3M agreed to settle a case in federal court it filed against ZeroAqua. The settlement brings an end to a “fraudulent N95 scheme involving the promise of billions of nonexistent N95 respirators.” The settlement came about “through the entry of a consent judgment, a court-entered permanent injunction, and payment to 3M for donation to a COVID-19 related charity.”

Gavel; image courtesy of bloomsberries, via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0, no changes made.

When commenting on the recent agreement, William Childs, the 3M Senior Counsel, said:

“The resolution of this case has permanently stopped a scam that used 3M’s name and the promise of nonexistent N95 respirators to target emergency officials and profiteers during the pandemic. We will continue our global fight against fraud and work with law enforcement to help punish bad actors.”

Zachary Puznak, the defendant in the suit, chimed in with the following apology:

“I would like to apologize to the State of Indiana, Luke Bosso, and the people of 3M. If I understood then what I understand now, I never would have gotten involved in this scheme. I have testified under oath that the people who contacted me were attempting to take advantage of my best intentions and use me as a vehicle for their attempt to commit fraud on the State of Indiana. Public officials and healthcare workers are heroes in this important fight. I have done and am going to do what is necessary to make this right. I am cooperating and have turned over all my communications with the architects of this scheme to 3M, who will share them with law enforcement. I have also sat for a deposition to tell my story on the record to help educate the public officials, health care administrators, and the general public to ensure they do not fall victim to a similar scheme in the future. I am committed to assisting 3M and law enforcement to see justice served.”

During the litigation process, Puznak testified under oath and even produced documents to support his testimony. He said he was “deceived by those he called the ‘architects’ of the scheme to defraud Indiana officials.” He testified that he was only a “conduit through which the ‘architects’ tried to defraud Indiana officials out of $14.25 billion for non-existent N95 respirators.”

Despite the recent settlement, 3M plans to pursue more court action “and additional bad actors identified in its investigation of the matter and in Puznak’s testimony.” So far, the company has filed 17 lawsuits throughout the U.S. and Canada in an effort to combat fraud. Additionally, it has a lawsuit dedicated to providing information on these lawsuits and “other 3M efforts to fight respirator fraud, counterfeiting, and price gouging.”

Sources:

3M stops N95 scheme in Indiana, resolving fraud lawsuit

3M resolves fraud lawsuit and stops N95 scheme in Indiana