One of the worst things that you can do during the time of a crisis is to take advantage of those in need. This is exactly what the Matthew Starsiak N95 respirator scam did - take advantage during the time when help was needed over and above anything else.
In this article, we take a look on the Matthew Starsiak N95 respirator scam and the updates that we have for it. We also look at how people can learn a thing or two about how one should not take advantage of a pandemic.
3M Is The Main Manufacturer of N95 Masks
Before diving into the lawsuit and the scam, it is important to first state that 3M is the main company that produces top quality N95 masks, N95 respirators, and all other personal protective equipment.
Based on court records, 3M is a “Delaware corporation, with its principal place of business in St. Paul, Minnesota. It defines itself as a provider of personal protective equipment ("PPE") for healthcare professionals, industry workers, and the public.”
For a lot of people, 3M products mean quality products. They are in the frontlines of creating high quality N95 masks, N95 respirators, and all other personal protective equipment. If you are looking for a good way to handle situations, you should always keep in mind that a 3M product is what will save you from the problem and may protect you in the process.
This kind of name and good will may be the reason why some scammers used 3M and their good name in order to scam people and try to perpetrate a false scheme. This is exactly what the respondents in the Mattew Starsiak case did.
The scam, as alleged, is simple. It was claimed that Matthew Starsiak, AMK Energy Services LLC, and John Does 1 through 10, claimed to have access to legitimate 3M products coming from the 3M company.
Based on court records, the Defendant Matthew Starsiak is a resident of Bountiful, Utah. He is the president of Defendant AMK Energy Services, LLC.
It was alleged that on May 1, 2020, a prospective buyer of a billion 3M N95 respirators and N95 masks contacted the Paris office of the international law firm Dentons. 3M alleged that one billion 3M N95 respirators and N95 masks are “roughly a year's worth of 3M's current total production of all models of N95 respirators” and that they are unaware of any circumstances by which Defendants could legitimately offer to provide "access to 3M."
In another transaction with one Ivan Fong, Starsiak claimed that they can also bring to 3M the richest and most powerful people in the world that want to remain anonymous except to the 3M attorneys. Starsiak also claimed to be connected with Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, and the Gates Foundation.
Upon doing due diligence, 3M's Director of Global Security contacted the Gates Foundation and was informed that the Gates Foundation had never heard of either of them. It was then found that the Defendants were trying to purchase billions of 3M-branded N95 respirators from 3M, they were simultaneously trying to find buyers willing to purchase them at a higher price.
The news broke when the Law Firm of Faegre Drinker filed a lawsuit on behalf of the 3M Company. It was alleged in a Federal Court in Minnesota that the respondents - AMK Energy Services LLC, John Does 1 through 10, and Matthew Starsiak claimed affiliation with 3M in order to defraud individuals. This alleged unauthorized use of the 3M company’s famous trademarks to “perpetrate a false and deceptive scheme on unwitting individuals and companies during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Basically, the lawsuit is saying the following:
- That Matthew Starsiak falsely claimed to be affiliated with 3M;
- That Matthew Starsiak falsely claimed to be affiliated with the Gates Foundation;
- That the Law Firm Dentons are part of a scam to deceive buyers who are looking to purchase billions of dollars worth of fictitious N95 masks from 3M;
- That 3M is neither affiliated nor aware of any of actions of the defendants; and
- That the defendants have no access to legitimate 3M branded N95 respirators.
The initial lawsuit seems to provide preliminary and permanent injunctive relief from the scam perpetrated by the defendants.
3M is also pursuing many companies who tried to perpetrate a scam using the name of 3M and claiming their products to be legitimate N95 respirators, N95 masks, and personal protective equipment.
In May 2020, 3M went after Nevada-based Zachary Puznak and Zenger LLC in an Indiana Federal Court as the defendants claimed to be receiving the “counsel of executives from 3M”. They sought to scam people out of around $285 million and $14.25 billion to sell much-needed N95 respirators to the state of Indiana as an “Easter gift.” Of course, 3M is not affiliated with the defendants and has made sure that they will not fall victim to the scam.
Based on recent court proceedings, a temporary restraining order was granted in favor of 3M. Judge Sue Richard Nelson found that there is sufficient reason to grant a temporary restraining order sought by 3M.
3M’s Promise and Next Steps
3M captured the hearts of many by saying that they are not after financial gain for the damages. 3M promised that they will donate any damages, costs or fees it recovers to COVID-19 charitable relief efforts.
3M has also helped individuals who need N95 masks and N95 respirators as they have not raised prices on its respirators during the global pandemic and wants to make sure that their prices will stay the same.
For the future, 3M promises to continue what they are doing. They have already filed a series of similar legal actions over the past several weeks across the United States. They are also working with national and international law enforcement, largest online retail companies, and even tech companies in the world to identify all activities that are illegal.