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Virginia attorney general warns against online price gouging amid coronavirus pandemic

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A customer rating for a product for sale on Amazon.com is displayed on a computer screen on Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, in New York. Online reviews at major retailers such as Amazon and Walmart and listing services such as Yelp look like a good place to get first-hand information from people who’ve tried a product or merchant.(AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — Price gouging is against the law, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring says, even if you sell online.

The reminder was issued in a letter by Herring and 33 attorneys general across the county who urge Amazon, Facebook, and other online listing sites to do more in the effort to combat price gouging.

“We are in the middle of a national public health crisis and the last thing folks should be worrying about is someone charging insanely high prices for necessary goods like cleaning supplies, hand sanitizers, or medicines,” Herring said. “While Virginia law offers protections for folks against price gouging, online marketplaces like Amazon, Facebook or Craigslist must be regulated by their parent companies to make sure people aren’t taking advantage of this crisis. We must all play our part in making sure that everyone has the things that they need during this unprecedented time and that includes putting a stop to price gouging.”

The letter Herring and his counterparts authored list several examples of price gouging, all of which took place in March: on Craigslist, a two-liter bottle of hand sanitizer was being sold for $250; on Facebook Marketplace, an eight-ounce bottle was being sold for $40; and on Ebay, packs of face masks were being sold for $40 and $50.

If you suspect price gouging at online or in-person retailers, you may file a complaint with the attorney general’s consumer protection section linked here.

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