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Florida coronavirus scams becoming more prolific 6 months into pandemic

With the pandemic now impacting the state for over six months, more than $1 million have been recovered for Floridians who fell victim to COVID-19 scams.

Florida’s price gouging hotline has received 5,100 contacts since mid-March about the price of essential goods.

More than 9,500 merchants have been contacted about allegations of price gouging or other scams.

The state price-gouging hotline was activated on March 10, after Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency because of the spread of the coronavirus.

Items covered by Florida’s law under the state of emergency include protective masks, sanitizing and disinfecting supplies, commercial cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment and COVID-19 test kits.

Attorney General Ashley Moody says consumers should continue to report issues when they see them. “As long as we are in the declared state of emergency, which we are in the COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue to push forward and ensure that there are people in the field recovering for consumers.”

DATA MAP: FTC COVID-19 and Stimulus Reports

Additionally, 250 posts have been taken down from online sales platforms, where items were listed with extreme price hikes. Those who violate Florida’s price gouging law face penalties of $1,000 per violation, up to $25,000 per day.

Moody added, “Exceeding a million dollars is just a first step. We are going to continue to pursue our efforts, both in the field and through building up investigations and litigation.”

Complaints can be filed by phone or online. Price gouging can be reported by calling 1-866-9NO-SCAM or by visiting MyFloridaLegal.com. For tips on reporting price gouging, click here.

Click to access Coronavirus+Scams+One-Sheet.pdf

Reporter:Rich Kolko
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