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Online Scammers Who Claim To Be Selling Protective Masks Bilk Lake Zurich Man On eBay

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A scam alert has been sounded after a man was ripped off while trying to buy masks for his family during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini reported Thursday, Anthony Virginelli is a father just trying to protect his family. All he wanted was to buy protective masks for them.

But in the process, he became a victim of online scammers. And fraud like this is happening all over.

Virginelli paid for the protective masks on eBay.

The Lake Zurich father of two young children and construction worker wanted to protect his family and himself during the pandemic, so he went on eBay and ordered and paid for half a dozen masks along with 225 charcoal-lined inserts.

But he never got the masks, and all that showed up in his mailbox were 25 of those inserts. He did not get what he paid for at all.

"That fact that somebody would take advantage of the situation that's going on in the entire world is just ludicrous," Virginelli said.

He also ordered a respirator mask and the cartridge filters that go with it for when he works again. No respirator mask arrived, and the cartridges came already unsealed and seemed dirty and marked up like they might have already been used.

Savini: "So somebody preyed on the fears of the public during the pandemic to make a buck?"

Virginelli: "Correct."

He complained online to eBay, and two weeks later he got two more packages in the mail. One was a box with one cartridge in it, and an empty envelope.

The packages also both had tracking numbers, which bought the alleged scammers even more time to prey on more people. The tracking numbers made it look like the sellers were making good by resending them.

"You sent me an envelope. What the hell am I going to do with an envelope -- an empty envelope on top of it?" Virginelli said. "I mean, it would be nice if you would have put some money it."

And that allowed the sellers to keep selling more of that scam items until the items were finally removed.

Virginelli's calls to eBay and our calls to officials at eBay went unanswered.

The whole thing has already cost him about $400.

"I mean, that fact that somebody would go ahead and take advantage of the people out here when we're all dealing with what we're dealing with - not being able to work, not being able to go out, not being able to make contact with somebody – to utilize that fear to make a buck is ridiculous," Virginelli said.

Making it worse, Virginelli's personal information has been comprised. More charges are showing up on his account.

Scams like these will likely be in the millions of dollars all over the world.

To report scams, you can contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud, at (866) 750-5721.

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