There are some things you might hope people wouldn't do, and stealing vital medical equipment in a pandemic is one of them. Niagara Police have arrested a man who allegedly fraudulently bought more than $760,000 worth of personal protective equipment. The load seized by police includes 130,000 face masks.

Niagara Regional Police Service said in a release issued Wednesday, June 24, that officers were called to a business selling PPE in Niagara Falls on the suspicion of suspected fraud and fake purchases.

According to the investigation, 130,000 N95 face masks and 7,500 bottles of hand sanitizer were purchased with a fake bank draft with an estimated cost of $767,000.

A search warrant was carried out yesterday, Tuesday, June 23, at a warehouse in the area of Pine Valley Drive and Hwy. 407  in the city of Vaughan. 

A 34-year-old Woodbridge resident, Richard Hariraj, has been arrested and police have now charged him with Possession of Property Obtained by Crime over $5,000.

Police confirmed that "almost all" of the N95 masks, which are worn mainly by frontline health and other essential workers to protect them from the virus, and the sanitizers have been recovered.

The available supply of PPE has been a critical issue in Ontario during the current pandemic.

There have been several thefts made in Canadian hospitals during the critical point of the virus, leaving some to even have to lock up their PPE supplies as they were low.

Recently, Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto actually began to find ways to turn snorkels into full-fledged protective face masks just in case the regular supplies ran out entirely.

Some Ontario students from the University of Toronto and McMaster also did their part in helping the GTHA with their 3D printing skills, creating face shields and donating to nearby hospitals.

Despite the shortage that hospitals and even stores faced, how the PPE has been disposed of around the province has also raised some concerns.

The dumping of PPE in Toronto has been a repeated concern as heaps of garbage and PPE were seen to be littered across the 6ix at one point.

As for this particular alleged PPE hoarder and fraudster, a future court date has been set in York Region.

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