Letitia James has a message for any store owners who feel they can make a quick buck in the middle of a virus outbreak: “Not on my watch.”
The state attorney general says she’s cracking down on any business she finds who might be unnecessarily profiting off the health fears of others. She demonstrated that with two cease and desist letters sent to a pair of merchants in Midtown and Astoria, Queens, who reportedly were selling sanitizer for as much as $80, and small bottles of disinfectant for $15.
“On my watch, we will not tolerate schemes or frauds deigned to turn large profits by exploiting people’s health concerns,” James said, in a release. “While there remains no cause for widespread panic, some people are looking to prey on others’ anxiety and line their own pockets. My office will remain vigilant in ensuring that we find and stop such unlawful activity and continue to ask the public to report suspected fraud, scams or price gouging to my office.”
Scammers tend to exploit real public health concerns, James said, using the heightened public fear to prey on consumers and profit from frauds related to those fears.
James notes there is no FDA-approved vaccine to prevent the coronavirus known as COVID-19. At the same time, people also should be wary of charity websites and online crowdfunding that is looking for donations for virus-related relief efforts.
Scammers also can use emails, texts and social media posts that appear to give virus updates, but have malicious links that can steal sensitive personal identity information.
“We are in the middle of a crisis, and we need to help our fellow New Yorkers,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said, in a release. “Now is not the time to try and profit.”
Not sure what to believe and what not to believe about COVID-19? BronxNet is airing an interview BronxTalk host Gary Axelbank conducted with medical experts Falguni Sen and Dr. Joe Ahn all this week at 9 p.m.
The cable access show is available on Channel 67 on Optimum cable systems, and Channel 33 on FiOS.
BronxNet also plans to share feeds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, providing the latest on the coronavirus outbreak.
For those who may have missed the broadcast of the program last week, it can be viewed online by clicking here.
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