Coronavirus scammers and price gougers are crawling out of the woodwork to prey on a frightened public already facing the double punches of a deadly disease and the economic fallout from social distancing efforts, state attorneys general are reporting.
In New York, the state’s attorney general has warned of opportunists going door-to-door offering a fake coronavirus test for a fee.
The scammers claim to be from the Centers for Disease Control, according to a statement from New York Attorney General Leticia James’ office.
The New York AG is also monitoring retailers for price gouging and for offering bogus treatments for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. In one case, televangelist Jim Baker was sent a cease-and-desist letter by James’s office ordering him to stop promoting a bogus remedy for the coronavirus.
Potentially adding to consumer confusion, President Donald Trump said Thursday that there are two drugs “essentially approved for prescribed use.” even though the FDA hasn’t approved them.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, speaking at the same news conference after Trump, said that a vaccine is still at least 12 months away.
In examples of price gouging, state AGs have reported cases of hand sanitizer being sold for $60 a bottle; toilet paper for $10 a roll and bleach for $9 a bottle, more than double the ordinary price, the Associated Press reported.
Grocery stores have been routinely running out of hand sanitizer and paper products such as toilet paper, paper towels and tissues as the coronavirus has spread.