On Your Side: Price gouging and COVID-19 scams

Published: Mar. 19, 2020 at 5:54 PM CDT
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The Missouri Attorney General says the problem with price gouging is getting worse.

It's easy to spot price gouging on Craigslist, eBay, Amazon and Facebook Marketplace for toilet paper, gloves, masks and hand sanitizer.

The Missouri Attorney General's office tells On Your Side this is a priority. About three dozen workers with the AG's office including lawyers, investigators and mediators are determined to stop this and need your help to do it.

Missouri law prohibits people from substantially raising prices for the basics. Once a complaint is filed, workers with the AG ask the seller to stop and can sometimes get restitution to customers. If that doesn't work, the case moves to court.

"We need to go to court to stop the conduct from occurring. We can also obtain monetary fines for each transaction up to $1,000. That can get very high if we are talking about hundreds and hundreds of transactions," said Tom Albus, First Assistant, Missouri Attorney General.

The Better Business Bureau is getting complaints of swindlers creating bogus websites to sell products, they don't have.

"These aren't legit companies. They don't have business licenses. They don't have real websites that are secure. And they're not selling a real product," said Stephanie Garland with the Better Business Bureau.

Here's how to spot a fake.

"Go to the 'About Us' page, and usually scammers aren't taking the time to fill it out. They're also using the same kind of stock images. So we keep seeing the same photos over and over again on different sites for face masks," Garland said.

If you spot price gouging, take a screenshot and send it to the Attorney General and Better Business Bureau.

Missouri Attorney General:


Arkansas Attorney General:


Report Price Gouging and Scams to Better Business Bureau:


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