Ohio Attorney General sues price gougers who inflated hand sanitizer prices on Amazon amid pandemic

Ohio Attorney General sues price gougers who inflated hand sanitizer prices on Amazon amid pandemic
(Source: CNN)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WOIO) - Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced he is taking an Athens couple to court for allegedly hoarding hundreds of bottles of hand sanitizer during the coronavirus crisis and selling them on Amazon 11 times higher than the retail price.

Yost said Marcus and Ellen Fultz sell products on Amazon under the name danielle-on-2nd.

According to the lawsuit and Yost, “the couple saw an opportunity to profit off the pandemic as the demand for health products skyrocketed. They rapidly acquired bulk quantities of hand sanitizer and listed them for sale, jacking up the price by as much as 1,017.3%.”

“This is appalling behavior and should be answered in a court of law,” Yost said. “Even more, it points out the need for a specific price-gouging law.”

Amazon records show the couple raked in over $26,700 by selling 600 Purell hand sanitizer products between February and March, according to Yost.

Yost said the couple raised prices by 241.8% to 1,017.3% in comparison to the average cost of the same products sold on Amazon in January.

“For example, Marcus and Ellen Fultz charged $39.44 for 8-ounce bottles of Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Refreshing Gel, a product that cost $3.53 on Amazon prior to the pandemic,” according to Yost.

The lawsuit was filed in Athens County Common Pleas Court and cites violations of Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act, which said “the couple unfairly inflated prices in response to unforeseen events that caused an increase in demand during a national health crisis,” Yost said.

According to Yost, the state is asking the court to grant an order requiring them to reimburse affected customers and pay civil penalties.

State Senators Nathan Manning and Steve Wilson partnered with Yost’s office to introduce Senate Bill 301 on April 8, which is legislation to establish consumer price-gouging protections in Ohio law.

The bill is currently pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Ohioans who suspect unfair business practices is urged to contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or call 1-800-282-0515.

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