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State lawmakers take a stand against coronavirus scammers

by | Mar 6, 2020 | Consumer Protection

It seems that this coronavirus crisis has brought out the worse in some people. This is what prompted California’s Attorney General (AG) to file suit against some face mask distributors in the past few days. In his filing, he alleged that these individuals are preying upon the vulnerabilities of unsuspecting consumers by charging excessive prices for medical supplies like these. Laws that prohibit price gauging exist in California and here in West Virginia.

California’s AG argued on March 4 that no consumer should have to worry about being cheated out of money when all they’re trying to do is to cope with the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The AG went on to describe in his public announcement how state law prohibits any manufacturers, distributors or retailers from marking up the price of any item up by more than 10 percent in advance of an emergency. Individuals who do this may be forced to pay as much as $10,000 in fines and subject to imprisonment in California.

Similar laws exist here in West Virginia. A Charleston judge may have the ultimate ability to decide when a price becomes excessive though. It’s only then that they may impose penalties.

Price gauging isn’t the only way that scammers are attempting to take advantage of the public. California’s AG pointed out how many scammers are capitalizing on consumers’ anxieties and fears and using that to deceive them. He pointed out how the guest on a recent Dish Network and Direct TV show suggested that he had formulated a product that would kill coronavirus. The lawmaker issued a cease-and-desist order to the television show after that.

If there’s one thing that you should know about scammers it’s that they like to swoop in and take advantage of different crises all in the name of making a quick buck. You should reach out to a consumer protection attorney if you’ve been deceived by an advertiser, distributor or retailer here in West Virginia. Your lawyer can advise you of the legal remedies that you can pursue to recover damages in your case if you do.

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