GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Muskegon man has been found guilty of federal wire fraud for selling N95 masks online and then never shipping them to customers.
On Thursday, a federal jury in California found Rodney Stevenson Jr. guilty of six counts of wire fraud and four counts of laundering of monetary instruments. Because he lives in Michigan but the majority of the victims listed in the case are in California, the case was being handled by U.S. attorneys in both states.
The Better Business Bureau said Stevenson sold N95 masks for $24.95 each through his online company, EM General which was started in September 2019. According to court documents, Stevenson’s company made $3.5 million between Feb. 11, 2020, and March 8, 2020. The vast majority of the sales were N95 masks that were never delivered.
The indictment alleges that Stevenson’s website said it had N95 masks “in stock” and they would “ship from the USA,” the BBB said. In reality, the company took in the orders and then ordered the needed products from overseas and had them shipped to the customer.
The BBB began receiving complaints about unfilled orders in March 2020 and an investigation began which led to the conviction. To date, the BBB says it has received nearly 400 complaints.
“This case is an example of how consumers, the Better Business Bureau, and law enforcement can work together to combat fraud in the marketplace,” Lisa Frohnapfel, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Western Michigan, said in a press release. “We would like to thank the customers who came forward with their complaints, and our partners in law enforcement who helped not only stop the fraud from continuing but brought justice to those consumers who were deceived.”
Stevenson faces 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
A sentencing date has not been set.