Florida attorney general monitoring price gouging amid COVID-19 outbreak

Violators could face fines as steep as $25,000 a day

File photo
File photo

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As Floridians stock up on essential supplies to make it through the coronavirus outbreak, there have been about 50 new reports of price gouging in just the past 24 hours.

Claims include $187 for eight cans of Lysol, $1,000 for six boxes of tissues and $788 for 12 rolls of paper towels, and those aren’t even the most egregious cases reported to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.

“I saw toilet paper for $10,000,” Moody said of the predatory practice.

Fortunately, there’s a way for Floridians to fight back. They can report cases of price gouging to Moody’s office. So far, the attorney general has received nearly 750 reports with 628 of them under further review.

“These types of complaints are cleaning supplies, face masks, hand sanitizers,” Moody said.

Moody said the numbers aren’t significantly higher than what is typically seen during a hurricane, but what is different is the fact that almost half of the price gouging complaints originate from online sales.

“We’re pulling down posts,” Moody said. “We’re really being aggressive in the field and responding to these on a day-to-day basis.”

The attorney general said price gouging issues are primarily coming from the hardest hit counties, Broward and Miami-Dade. But as the virus spreads, Moody expects so too will price gouging.

“If people are trying to make money off the backs of Floridians, many of which have been sent home from their jobs, it’s unacceptable, it’s unlawful and we’ll come for them,” she said.

Violators could face fines as high as $25,000 a day.

If you notice suspected price gouging, you can report it by calling 1-866-9NO-SCAM. You can also use the NoScam app, which lets users upload photos and provide more details on their reports.