ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Items like toilet paper, hand sanitizer and Lysol have been in high demand amid the coronavirus outbreak, giving scammers an opportunity to take advantage of people desperate for supplies.
Both Missouri and Illinois are seeing an increase in calls about price gouging. The Illinois attorney general’s website provides a place to report gouging related to COVID-19 right on the front of the page.
In Illinois, the number of price gouging complaints under investigation is 616. Everything from a $1 increase on food products to toilet paper for $50 a role. Most of these products are from third party sellers, not actual stores. The same is happening in Missouri.
In Missouri, there are more than 200 price gouging complaints under investigation.
“Unfortunately, scam artists never take a break but unfortunately during times of natural disaster they work overtime,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmidt said.
Schmidt’s office just issued a cease and desist order against a Springfield man selling face masks at inflated prices.
“It was at least double the price, maybe triple at one point $12 to $15 for the cost of a single mask,” Schmidt said. “Hoarding these masks, we are particularly sensitive to medical equipment like that.”
Schmidt said his office recently entered a partnership with Amazon and Facebook to shut potential scammers down.
“We reached out to them last week and said ‘hey we are getting a lot of complaints on the secondary market,’” Schmidt said.
Now with talks about the government sending checks to Americans, Schmidt's office is already anticipating calls regarding scams related to the stimulus. If you encounter a price gouging complaint in Missouri or Illinois, you are encouraged to report it to your state’s attorney general.