Florida Attorney General has issued $275K in refunds for victims of scams

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Personal protective equipment like masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and disinfectant have remained the top three price gouging complaints made to the Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, and if you’re a victim, you might be able to get your money back.

According to Nielsen research from March and April, sales of aerosol disinfectants jumped 230% and multipurpose cleaners sales jumped 109% from the same time a year ago.

At many places, when the items will come back in stock is anybody’s guess and scammers thrive off that uncertainty.

“We’re at about 3,800 complaints for essential commodities,” Moody said.

According to Moody, the price gouging Floridians are seeing during the pandemic is historic.

“It’s a unique situation because unlike hurricanes where we are really focusing for a short period of time, I have my team working around the clock. This has really been an extended duration that presses hard on our resources," Moody said.

Most price gouging complaints are about online retailers.

By the numbers, Moody’s office has:

  • Issued 69 price gouging subpoenas
  • Taken down 185 online posts
  • Made more than 5,000 referrals to merchants accused of price gouging

“$571 for a can of Lysol, $74 for Excedrin -- that is unacceptable," Moody said.

Even if you were considering paying those prices, the Federal Trade Commission is warning that the company you think you’re buying from might not even exist

The FTC says if you buy from an unknown retailer:

  • Check out the company or product by typing its name in a search engine with the words “complaint” or “scam”
  • Pay by credit card, as you can dispute the bill with your credit card company and get protections under federal law
  • Report it to the Attorney General’s office

It’s worth it to report. Moody’s office has issued $275,000 in refunds related to travel, leisure and product purchases that were scams.

The biggest scam complaint so far: False promises for stimulus payments.

“(You’re) never going to have to provide personal information or provide upfront payment to receive stimulus payments," Moody said. "It’s not going to happen.”

That is also true for unemployment checks and small business loans. If someone calls offering to get you your money faster for a fee, It is safe to say it is a scam.

About the Author: